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Soil Temperature – It Matters!

April 16th, 2014

In the spring, many of us are excited to get planting and we see the phrase “as soon as soil can be worked” on our seed packet and plant things a little too early. Even though the soil can be worked, it’s cold, this causes delayed germination and in some cases seeds will rot in the ground before sprouting. It pays to wait an extra week before planting things like beets and peas. ¬†Beets in particular seem to be very picky about soil temperature.
planting peas 2
Lettuce can be sown early, it will take longer to germinate than it does in slightly warmer temps, but the germination rates aren’t as drastically reduced as they are for other types of seeds since they’re so close to the surface. In most cases waiting a week won’t put you any farther behind as far as harvest scheduled go, since the seeds often take longer to germinate they end up coming up at the same time anyways, you just have less risk of seed damage or birds eating the seeds if you wait.
arugula seedlings
In my 5×5 Challenge Garden out front the arugula seeds have started to germinate. None of the lettuces have yet. It’s been a week since I sowed the seeds, the ones I planted in a seed flat indoors germinated in 2-3 days. This shows you how soil temperature affects seed germination.

Have you noticed differing germination rates of some things in the spring when the soil is cold? 

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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