KEEP AN EYE ON SOIL TEMPERATURE BEFORE DECIDING WHAT TO SOW – 4th wk in Feb 2014

Carne is known for first early potatoes as the soil temperature is a little warmer for early sowing.

Carne is known for first early potatoes as the soil temperature is a little warmer for early sowing.

The experienced gardeners I meet around Ireland tell me that there is a tendency to sow seed too early in the year. The likelihood is that many imported seed packets and gardening literature originates in places where the soil is warmer earlier in spring compared to the NW of Ireland in particular. Taking the soil temperature before planting out seedlings or sowing directly makes sense.

In my book ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ (www.orpenpress.com) on pages 103 – 104, you will find a list of vegetables and the soil temperatures which suit their seed germination. Lettuce will start off in a low as 2 c, whereas tomato, courgette and pepper need atleast 13 c.

The potato likes about 10 c in the soil. However as a tuber, it is more robust than the tiny seeds used to grow most vegetables. The warmer the soil early in the year, the quicker the growth begins. Living as we do in Tacumshin, we are near Carne in the south eastern corner of Ireland. The soil temperature is generally about 1 c  warmer in the early part of the year compared to other parts of the country. However the wetness of the ground held up potato sowing this year as much as soil temperature.

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