The Handiest Moisture Meter

It only takes a finger test to tell if your garden needs watering. Photo:

Not sure whether it’s time to water your vegetables, flower beds, houseplants, etc.? I know the perfect moisture meter, one which gives totally accurate results every time … and you already have it on hand. In fact, literally right on your hand.

This extraordinary tool is … your index finger (or if you don’t have an index finger, any other functional finger).

Here’s the technique:

Insert your finger into the soil up to the second joint. If the soil is dry to the touch, water. If the soil is moist to the touch, don’t water.

Repeat as needed every 3 or 4 days (for garden plants and houseplants) or daily (flower boxes exposed to full sun).

Moisture meters are widely available, but not as accurate as a finger. Montage:

Obviously, there are plenty of commercial moisture meters that are supposed to accurately read soil moisture levels, but they often give false results, especially in certain types of soil. Moreover, they tend become contaminated with mineral salts after only a few months of use and then stop working properly. Your finger, on the other hand, will continue to give accurate results for 40, 60, or even 80 years.

Sometimes gardening can be so simple!

Adapted from an article originally published on July 13, 2015.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

1 comment on “The Handiest Moisture Meter

  1. DUH! Some of the other contraptions are so silly!

Leave a Reply

Sign up for the Laidback Gardener blog and receive articles in your inbox every morning!

%d bloggers like this: