Soil Temperatures Important in the Georgia Vegetable Garden-A Guest Post by Sharon Dowdy

The air temperatures may be warm but the soil temperatures are still cool.
The air temperatures may be warm but the soil temperatures are still cool.

Georgia’s recent warm daytime temperatures have home gardeners itching to dig in the soil and plant summer crops. But University of Georgia experts warn gardeners not to be tempted. Soil temperatures are still far too low for seeds to germinate and transplants to survive.

“In Georgia, we may have a warm front come in one day and a cold front a few days later,” said Bob Westerfield, a consumer horticulturist with UGA Cooperative Extension. “It may hit 75 degrees outside, but the air temperature isn’t important when it comes to gardening – the soil temperature is.”

“That soil’s not ready for tomatoes. Summer crops need from 60 to 65 degrees.” he said.

Green beans can handle temperatures of about 55 degrees, but it is still not quite warm enough for them. If gardeners ignore his advice and seed their gardens, he says the seeds won’t germinate.

Gardeners who cannot resist the temptation can still plant cold season crops like asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, collards, kale, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, potatoes, radish, spinach and turnips.

To track the soil temperatures in your area of the state, Westerfield recommends two different strategies. Buy a soil thermometer or use a meat thermometer to test the soil in your garden plot or rely on UGA’s Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network at www.georgiaweather.net.

Soil temperatures “creep up slowly” and Georgia soils should be ready to sow in seed by early-to-mid

Use www.georgiaweather.net to check soil temperatures in your area. The current soil temperatures in Griffin are in the 40s.
Use www.georgiaweather.net to check soil temperatures in your area. The current soil temperatures in Griffin are in the 40s.

April, Westerfield said.

“And don’t be swayed by the vegetable transplants lining the garden center shelves,” he said. “Just because plants are in the stores doesn’t mean it’s time to plant them.”  Contact your local UGA Extension Agent for more information.

For more information on vegetable gardening in Georgia, see the UGA Extension publication, “Vegetable Gardening in Georgia”.

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.  Growing her own tomatoes has been beneficial for Sharon’s heart. She met her beau five years ago while buying tomato stakes at Home Depot.

Happy gardening!

Becky Griffin

1 thought on “Soil Temperatures Important in the Georgia Vegetable Garden-A Guest Post by Sharon Dowdy”

  1. It is very easy to see all the greenery in Lowes and Home Depot and think it is ookay to plant. Good resources to help make the right decision!

    Reply

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