As many of you know, I have always advocated keeping a garden journal. One of the most important things to log in your journal is the daily weather in your garden. That would include the amount of rainfall your garden gets (using a simple rain guage) as well as the daily high and low temperatures. I have been keeping rainfall stats since 2012 and started logging temperature information in 2013. With two to three years of information, it’s starting to pay off by giving me a glimpse into my garden’s climate.
Keeping weather information in your garden journal will help you with several things. First, it will give you more accurate information regarding first and last frost dates for YOUR garden’s location. Second, it will help you understand how the weather affects your germination, growth, and harvest yield. Of course, the weather isn’t the only factor that affects your garden, but knowing the weather piece helps you know what you can and cannot control. (If you have some advice on controlling the weather, please patent it right away; you’ll make a million dollars. 🙂 )
Today, I’m going to share with you my weather charts, so you can see how beneficial it is to keep track of rainfall and temperatures and see the changes year to year. It’s also very easy to turn data into charts using Excel’s chart wizard. (I am NOT a computer guru, so if I can do it, anyone can.)
I’ve been keeping measurements of rainfall in my garden for three years now. I created two charts with this information – one for monthly totals and one for annual totals. It’s interesting to see the disparity in rainfall month to month and year to year. (It also explains why my water bill was higher in some months than in others!)
You can definitely can see that we don’t have a particular rainy season, do we?
Here’s the chart with annual rainfall. We were about 20 inches below 2013’s figures until we received all that rain in September and November and caught up, thankfully.
I now have two years of first and last frost dates.
- Last Frost: In 2013 and 2014, the last frost date in my garden was March 27. Now I know not to schedule my spring planting this year until April 1.
- First Frost: In 2013, the first frost was on November 14, but in 2014 it was on November 3. After 2015, I’ll know better, but I think I should plan for the first frost to be around the end of October.
AVERAGE DAILY TEMPERATURE:
It’s good to know the average daily high temperature and the average daily low temperature. Over time, you can compare years and see how hot the summer or how cold the winter really were. I knew that the summer of 2014 was hotter than the summer before, and this chart shows that. (It also explains why my pepper harvest wasn’t as large as that of the prior year as they don’t produce well in high heat.)
For most months, even the average daily low in 2014 was warmer than in 2013. (Remember the ice storms we had last year? You can see the effect of them in January 2014’s average low temperature.)
HIGHEST & LOWEST DAILY TEMPERATURE:
Every month, I note the highest and lowest daily temperature reached. Although Charleston is known for its temperature extremes, even in the same day, the chart still gives me an idea of temperature trends.
This chart shows that 2014 certainly was warmer than 2013.
The chart of the lowest temperature recorded each month is interesting. In January, you see the effect of the 2014 ice storms. You also see that in spite of 2014 having higher daily temperatures in most months (in above chart), some of those same months had lower “lows” than in 2013. Yep, welcome to Charleston.
Here in Charleston, SC, any day that hits 90 degrees plus is an unbearable day because it always comes with excessive humidity. That has such an impact on plants that I have to choose many varieties that are specifically adapted to the southern heat. Because of that, I keep records of how many days per month have a high temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Look at the difference between 2013 and 2014. This past summer was HOT, and it came early. (So early, the pickle worms arrived from Florida two months ahead of schedule!)
I also keep track of the number of frost days (days with lows at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit). You can definitely see the effect of the ice storms in January 2014. Normally, we don’t have many frost days here in the South. But close your eyes, wait a second, and it could change!
As you can see, keeping weather data for your garden is very beneficial. And turning the data into a chart makes it even easier to see weather patterns that help you plan your gardening tasks.
Do you keep a garden journal? Do you include weather data? Have you ever created weather charts for your garden?