A Matter of Degrees
- Students will be able to identify microclimates and describes ways to raise the temperature naturally.
Teach the Teacher
Tools & Materials
- Two liter bottles
- Knife or scissors
- Portable lights
- Wood chips or straw
So many beginning gardeners eagerly jump all in on the process of breaking new ground without considering the natural forces that might work to their benefit in the overall garden design. What escapes them is the nuance that even a small 20’x20’ garden plot might have. Soil temperatures can range by 6-8 degrees in a matter of a few feet and dropping seeds in the wrong spot can have dire consequences on your harvest months later. Taking the time upfront to understand the temperature profile of your space can pay off in the long run.
Identify a few areas that are too cold to germinate seeds by taking a soil temperature reading and record your results as a baseline. Test various methods to raise the temperature in those locations. This might include areas inside the classroom or outside the building altogether. Your methods for raising the temperature might include cloches, row covers, supplemental lighting, or mulching. Which method raised the temperature the most?
Now explore areas that might have higher soil temperatures than the surrounding area. These might include microclimates near walls or shrubs or areas protected from wind with more southerly exposure. Discuss how site selection, in particular, the use of natural or man-made microclimates, could impact your overall garden plan and reduce the need for other methods of increasing soil temperature.
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