If you are serious about gardening, you should be equally serious about watching the weather. Your gardening efforts will all be for nothing if your flowers, plants, and vegetables aren’t getting sufficient sunlight and rain. We strongly recommend you consider a personal weather station to maintain a successful garden.
While many plants and crops are quite hardy and have been bred over time to grow in a variety of climates, most are extremely susceptible to weather changes. The best home weather stations will give you valuable information on when rain isn’t sufficient to keep the soil moist, and when temperatures get too cold, and it’s time to cover your plants up to protect them.
A weather station isn’t a perfect guarantee that you’ll become a better gardener, but you’ll at least be better informed. And that should result in some degree of success in better performing plants and crops, so the initial investment is most definitely worth it.
What Instruments Are the Most Important for Gardening?
For the avid gardener, the two most important weather variables to keep track of are temperature and precipitation. While advances in how we have domesticated crops over the millennia have made plants quite resilient, there are still temperatures at which plants and crops grow the best. Additionally, almost no plant can survive long periods of sub-freezing temperatures, so when seasonal weather changes come and the temperature drops, it’s going to be the end of your growing season.
Growing seasons aren’t always perfect either. While temperatures might be warm enough to support your plants, abnormally dry weather can stunt their growth. During these periods, you’ll need to resort to alternative ways to get them the moisture they need such as irrigation, sprinklers, or watering your plants manually.
Other functionality like soil and leaf moisture sensors could be used for plants that require a more precise amount of moisture to thrive, and wind data might be helpful to judge when wind-sensitive activities like spraying of pesticides will be the most effective.
How Should I Use My Weather Station Data?
Having some type of method to record data over time is useful to help spot trends. Your weather station on its own is only giving you a snapshot of the weather conditions at any given time: that’s not going to tell you much otherwise.
Analyzing the weather data over time tells you much more. It’s been dry the past few days, but the rest of the month’s been wet. Your plants should be okay for a while longer because the ground’s not completely dry. Or maybe it’s gotten quite cold consistently over the past week. Since it’s the end of the season, it might be time to start thinking about wrapping up your gardening for this season and start planning for the next.
Without the context of weather data over the previous days and weeks, there might be things that you’ll miss that could adversely affect your garden. With this data, you’ll have a much higher chance of success.
The Importance of the Forecast
Yes, your weather station will give you loads of great data, but don’t forget about the forecast. With time, you’ll learn what weather conditions precede which types of weather, but it will only be a few hours or a day in advance.
Your local weatherman and his forecasts are invaluable. He or she will be able to tell you the expected conditions several days and even a week in advance. Don’t think your weather station isn’t important though. Use your weather station to confirm these forecasts, and make changes should the weather take an unexpected turn.
Do I Need a Fully Featured Weather Station?
Temperature and precipitation information is going to be the most useful for gardeners, so you may wonder if a fully featured weather station is necessary. We think it’s still wise to get a weather station versus just a thermometer and rain gauges. Standalone weather instruments are cheaper but suffer from accuracy issues as a result.
Overall, a weather station is going to provide a better experience while giving you more accurate readings. Our experience has shown that fully featured weather stations are also generally built better, which means that their usable life will be longer than those cheaper standalone instruments.
Add to this that you’ll also lose essential functionality like data logging and remote access, and what you gain in terms of a lower price are far outweighed by the functionality you'll lose. We recommend that you choose a complete home weather station for the best results.