It’s spring! But is it time to plant your seeds? One of the most accurate ways to determine spring planting time is soil temperature – not air temperature, or even the calendar.
Early morning is the best time to monitor your soil’s temperature. The soil may warm later in the day, but you need to know the coldest temperature your seeds will experience. Planting seeds in soil that is too cold will prevent sprouting, and your seeds may rot.
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How to Measure Soil Temperature
To take your soil’s temperature use a metal thermometer like one of these. Insert the thermometer into the soil approximately 3 – 4″ deep. Take the temperature for a few days in a row to be sure it is consistent, and before planting, check your weather forecast to be sure that a cold spell is not predicted.
Soil Temperature for Common Seeds
The following is the optimum temperature at which to plant some common seeds.
- Beans 80°F
- Beets 85°F
- Carrots 80°F
- Corn 95°F
- Lettuce 75°F
- Peas 75°F
- Tomato 85°F
Note that the optimum temperature may seem high. There is also an optimum range which includes temperatures quite a bit lower. That information may be found on the chart – Soil Temperature Conditions for Vegetable Seed Germination. Use the same guidelines to plant seeds and to transplant seedlings.
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