Soil Temperature Basics: What’s the Best for Transplanting Vegetable Starts & Seedlings?

By on April 11, 2012

Say aah! Tricia takes the soil's temperature with a soil thermometer.

Check the soil temperature before you transplant your vegetable seedlings and starts.

Vegetables need specific soil temperatures to grow properly, as Tricia mentions in our video on Planting Vegetables.

How to Check Soil Temperatures

soil thermometer We have two soil thermometers, one with a dial display, and the other with fluid that rises in a tube to show the temperature.

Simply push either thermometer a few inches into the soil, and wait about a minute until the reading is stable.

Keep an eye on the weather forecast too. Remember, you want the soil to be at the most conducive temperature and  have a good chance of maintaining that temperature.

You can control the soil temperature to some extent—tips for that below.

Determining Proper Soil Temperatures for Transplanting Seedlings

how to grow more vegetables Vegetables can be baffling. Sometimes they need one soil temperature to germinate, and a different soil temperature to grow as plants.

The seed packet will give you the soil temperature required for germination.

When it’s time to transplant the seedlings into your garden, look up the plant-growing temperature on vegetable charts.

The biointensive classic, How to Grow More Vegetables, has charts of soil temperatures (for both germination and plant-growing).
vegetable gardener bibleAnother excellent omnibus book for vegetable gardeners, The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, gives some general rules for optimal soil temperatures for transplanting:
*  60º to 65ºF for cabbages and beans
*  below 75ºF for corn
*  75ºF for peppers

How to Raise Soil Temperatures

Before you plant, you can warm up the soil temperature by spreading a layer of Thermal Green Mulching Film. Then plant through holes cut in the film, or remove it altogether at planting time.

If a drop in temperature occurs after the seedlings are planted, protect them with floating row covers that will allow rain and sunlight to get through to the transplants. Here’s the scoop on how to choose and use row covers.

Give your transplants the right soil temperatures and they’ll reward you with their best crops!

  Comments (2)


I didn’t see the Eden movie, but this is almost exactly how I made my first garden in 1986. I read about it in an old Organic Gardening magazine. When I moved to my current home, I called a top soil guy and he brought me a big truck load. The dirt when down on top of the newspapers and I had a huge pile of fresh compost after cleaning out the barn and hauling in bags of raked leaves. I also add lots of peat moss to my soil. This really is the best way to make new gardening space.

Posted by Rolas on Jun. 14, 2012 at 1:52:22 AM


Rolas, Sounds good! Thank you for sharing your garden story.

Posted by Charlotte, Peaceful Valley on Jan. 23, 2013 at 4:35:34 PM

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