Question: What would my family need to make a simple garden weather station?
Answer: Keeping track of the weather helps gardeners know when to plant and how often to water. A basic weather station should include: a minimum-maximum thermometer, a rain gauge, a wind vane, and a record book.
Rain gauges are easy to make. Use any clear container with a top equal in size to the bottom. Olive jars are perfect for this project, but you can use a plastic water or soda container if you cut off the narrow top section. Place a strip of tape on the outside of the container, use a ruler to measure and mark -- in 1/2-inch increments -- on the piece of tape. This 1/2-inch scale creates a gauge for measuring the amount of rainfall in your garden. Set the gauge out in the open, away from trees, and in a place where it will not be tipped over. Record the total rainfall at the same time each day, and be sure to empty the container.
A wind vane is a useful tool for forecasting because certain winds tend to bring good weather while others often bring rain. Once your wind vane is up and running, a glance at it will give you an important clue about what to expect: winds from the west are likely to usher in fair weather, and easterly winds are likely to bring unsettled conditions.
An inexpensive weather vane is easy to construct. Select a rigid drinking straw. Push a pin through the midpoint of the straw and into the eraser on the end of a pencil. At one end of the straw, attach some weight, such as a lump of modeling clay about the size of a marble. Tape or glue a rectangular piece of Styrofoam or light cardboard to the other end of the straw. Stick the sharp end of the pencil into a heavy ball of modeling clay.
Place the weather vane outside. It will align itself so that the end of the straw with the lump of modeling clay on it will point into the wind. Use a compass to determine the direction from which the wind is blowing.
Keep your readings accurate by recording minimum and maximum temperatures and accumulated rainfall at the same time every day.