Must-Have Garden Tool: Rain Gauge

rain gaugeThis past weekend was a classic example of Minnesota weather: A little unpredictable and wildly variable.

While rain showers and storms had been predicted, the amount of rain and where it fell varied enormously. So, Sunday found me in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities for lunch, where there was only a slight drizzle), in the southern suburbs in the afternoon, where downpours were so severe intersections flooded, and home about 40 miles from the Twin Cities in the evening, where it started dry but ended with 3 additional inches of rain. Don’t get me wrong — we needed the rain, even if it came in a downpour.

This type of weather is why a rain gauge is a must-have garden tool in Minnesota — and beyond. Averages mean nothing here. It doesn’t matter if the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (where official totals are recorded) gets 2 inches of rain if your garden gets nothing. Rain gauges are not expensive. You can get them for under $5 to nearly $50. One tip: For Minnesota storms, get a gauge that measures at least 6 inches of rain. There will come a day when it overflows.

When placing the gauge, make sure it is in a spot that is not protected by trees or the eaves of your house. It’s also good to put it in a spot where you can read the levels from a nice, dry location. Finally, be sure you empty it out after a storm so you aren’t measuring rain twice. Most plants need an inch a week of water to perform at their best, either from Mother Nature or from the hose.

What are some of your other must have garden tools?