My Finger Feels Cool/Cold when I stick it in the soil--is it wet?

SummersoffMarch 21, 2012

Just as the subject says, when the soil feels cool or cold when I put my finger in the soil does that indicate saturated soil?

I know this may be a newbie type question, but I am! I have to learn somewhere haha.

Does dry soil feel warmer than what I'm feeling?

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Moist soils feel cooler when you stick your finger in them because moisture evaporating from the soil's surface actually cools the soil, so it WILL be cooler than room temp when it's moist. Your finger feels cooler because it's moist when you withdraw it, sand the moisture evaporating from your finger makes it feel cooler - like when you step out of a shower when you're wet.

Water on an 'as needed' basis, not on a schedule, for best results.

Soils begin to feel dry to the touch when they still have about 40% moisture content. Plants can usually extract moisture from soils until the moisture content is 25-30%, some plants even lower than that, so you have a 10-15% built in cush, even after soils feel dry.

You're best served to water about the time the soil feels dry to you, as far as you can stick your finger into the soil. Better still, is to use a sharpened dowel and insert that deep into the soil mass. If it comes out cool/dirty - no need to water. If your plants are small, hefting the pot can be a useful way to gauge moisture content. Use some discretion, because even though the plants can extract moisture down to the 25-30% moisture content level, bark/peat-based soils become hydrophobic (difficult to rewet) as they pass below about 30% moisture content.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 10:29AM
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great answer, AL, thanks!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 6:10PM
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