Gardening Matters

Let me see if I have this straight. In February it felt like late March. In March it felt like April or, at times, even like May. In April it has felt like everything from early June to early March. It is a bit mindboggling this year. I used to know a fine, respectable lady who blamed every weather aberration on the 1969 moon landings. Perhaps she was right all these years.

Now, I am not one of those guys who watch the Weather Channel all day. Yet. However, as a gardener I take more than an “Is-it-going-to-rain-on-our-picnic” interest in the weather. Matters of rain, freezing, drought and soil temperature have more significance for me now that I have invested so much in my garden.

The University of Georgia operates the Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network. The website is This is an excellent source of information on what is, or has been, happening with our weather. It is not a weather forecasting service. Rather, it records a wide range of data on what has been happening with our environmental conditions. They have data collection stations all over the state, including one in Dunwoody.

Using this site, I can check on cumulative rainfall, temperature averages and a host of other conditions. For example, soil temperature is one of the key factors for germinating seeds or getting seedling plants off to a good start. Most summer blooming plants and veggies like a soil temperature between 60°-70° in order for seeds to germinate or for seedlings to start growing. If planted too early, before optimum soil temperatures have been reached, seedlings may sit and rot in cold soil. Seeds scattered in soil that is too cool may not germinate or may get eaten by critters before they can germinate.

To use the website, follow the link, above. On the first page, select a weather station on the left of the page and click on your location of interest. This will bring up a list of about thirty different reports for that particular location that you can view to get the information you are seeking. If you are someone who already watches the Weather Channel incessantly you could probably spend hours or maybe days just looking at the info. Think of it as smut-free weather porn for the easily amused.

On another topic, PALS (Perimeter Adult Learning Services) will be offering a series of gardening classes from June 25 through July 30. PALS is a great non-profit service organization that regularly offers a variety of Lunch ‘n’ Learn classes on topics from history to art to travel to politics and more. The summer classes will be held on Mondays beginning June 25 at Temple Sinai in Sandy Springs. The gardening sessions will be focusing colors in the garden. Each session will cover one color, e.g. red, and how to use it in your garden. I will be doing one of these classes. But not to worry, the other teachers will be people who actually know what they are talking about. See their website at or call them at (770) 698-0801 for more information. Details on these summer sessions should be posted on the website soon.

According to the UGA Automated Environmental Monitoring Network website, the soil temperature at two inches deep is 68.9° today, so I am going to go put out some seeds for summer annuals. I hope to see some of you at the PALS classes.

Jeff Coghill has been gardening in DeKalb County for more than 30 years and has probably killed at least one of each kind of plant he has tried before getting another one to thrive. He is a gardening volunteer at the Dunwoody Nature Center and works closely with members of the DeKalb Master Gardeners group. He can be reached at

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