With spring planting just around the corner, many of us are stocking up on seeds and soil, checking out garden ideas, and buying new garden tools.
But if your goal this year is planting a garden that will be the envy of your neighborhood, another item you should put on your shopping list is a weather station. Why a garden weather station? Because having a “green thumb” doesn’t just mean possessing experience and intuition. A healthy garden also requires educated decisions based on vital information about environmental conditions that directly affect the wellbeing of plants. And what conditions affect plants more than the weather?
Following are the top 5 reasons a wireless weather station can help even the most experienced gardener enjoy crispier lettuce, juicer tomatoes, and crunchier carrots:
1. You Know How Much to Water – Quality weather stations often offer a rain gauge, allowing you to track rainfall totals. By using the AcuRite weather monitoring tools to know how much or how little it has rained, you can calculate how much extra watering your garden needs. And when you are watering, your rain gauge can be used to track that too. Watering the correct amount not only benefits your vegetables but can also help you save on your water bill.
Kemper Barkhurst sits on the board of directors at the City of Albuquerque's largest community garden; the Rio Grande Community Farm. Barkhurst said installing an Internet-connected weather station onsite has helped their dozens of volunteers remotely monitor rainfall, and in the process keep healthier plants while cutting down on water usage.
"It is important to our fieldwork and irrigation needs to monitor the weather conditions," Barkhurst said. “(Our weather station) has improved our watering schedule so that we have monitored enough rainfall that we can skip irrigating.”
2. You Know When to Plant – Another feature of some garden weather stations is the ability to track soil temperature with an outdoor sensor. This enables you to pinpoint the best time to put seeds in the ground for proper germination. While basic soil thermometers do the job, the more sophisticated, Internet-connected weather stations available allow you to remotely view soil temperatures, and even set an alert to let you know when conditions are right for planting a garden.
Kathy Purdy, who writes a popular blog called “Cold Climate Gardening,” said her soil temperature-equipped weather station system helps her better plan her early-season gardening activities. “Using (a) weather station enables me to better predict when it is safe to plant out frost-tender crops and flowers,” Purdy said. “It also helps me plan the best time to start seeds indoors.”
3. You Can Avoid Frost Damage – With all the work you put in, you’d hate to see it go to waste after one freezing night. A weather station can track air temperatures and alert you of low air temperatures so you can protect delicate, frost-sensitive plants.
"The last spring frost and the first autumn frost are the defining moments of the gardening year. Many plants will die when exposed to freezing temperatures, so it's important to know when that period of time will occur," Purdy said. "Having advance notice of frost permits me to protect plants and extend my growing season."
4. You Can Prevent Wind Damage – We usually don’t think of wind when planning a healthy garden, but especially strong gusts can definitely cause damage. A weather station with wind speed monitoring can let you know if you need to take action. Shawna Coronado, who runs the successful shawnacoronado.com gardening, food, and health blog, uses a weather station to keep tabs on her expansive garden when she’s traveling.
"When I'm traveling for business in another state, I check the weather at my home weather station using the app on my phone,” Coronado said. “I can see how windy it is by keeping an eye on the app on my phone - if it gets too windy, I can have someone go out and pull the hanging pots down so they don't break. Definitely a "win" for my home garden and for my business because I require constant weather supervision to be successful."
5. You Can Plan Your Activities – Since the time you spend in the garden is weather dependent, having insight into what Mother Nature has in store can help you better manage everything from planting to harvesting, to bring your garden ideas to life. Adding lightning detection to your weather station’s capabilities can also help keep you safe when working in your garden.
"Weather completely 100% effects my business because I am concerned about heat or cold in relation to growing,” Coronado said. “I am also concerned about how much water I get during rainfall or what the wind might be. All of this affects the plants in my garden, so it becomes important to me to know directly. Being able to better understand the weather makes gardening easier and my job easier.” "You can't really succeed in gardening without understanding your climate and its typical weather patterns," Purdy added. "Tracking the weather yourself gives you the best understanding of your microclimate.”