Slow your roll, gardeners! Don’t let these warm temperatures trick you

Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 03/10, 2016 at 02:17 PM

Slow your roll, gardeners! Don’t let these warm temperatures trick you

The weather this week has caused many of us to catch a seasonal illness: spring fever. With temperatures more like May than March, the itch to start the garden may be really tough for some of us to resist. Is it too early to plant? Well, for the most part, yes. However, there are exceptions, but it will mean some extra work.

One thing to keep in mind is the local climate. As a general rule, temperatures don’t follow a straight linear rise in spring, and that’s especially true in our neck of the woods here in the Appalachians. The forces of winter are under siege now, but most years they rally and remind us that the days of constant warmth are still a ways away.

For example, there are signs on long-range forecast models that at least a temporary chill-down is on the way for late next week, and that may include snowflakes and temperatures well below freezing. So, with all this in mind, can you jump the gun some and plant now?

There are some cold-hardy plants, such as peas, spinach, certain Asian greens, and radishes that could be planted now. But they would need protection, such as floating row covers or hoop houses when the temperatures cool down.

As for cold-sensitive plants like tomatoes, basil, peppers, pumpkins, etc., forget it. Not only will these plants be toast once we get the inevitable frost, they need warm soil temperatures for germination. Even if you manage to get them to germinate and not rot in the ground, the cool soil temperatures will stunt their growth. And even if you manage to get them to survive our upcoming cold snaps (good luck with that), they won’t be as productive in the summer due to their stunted start.

What you can do is start some of these plants indoors. Check your last frost date for your area, and check your seed pack or do some online research to find out recommended seed starting times. That way you can get your planting itch scratched. And why not take the seed flats outside and do the work in the warm weather?

So, hang in there. We’re not quite at a time when we can forget about frosty temperatures, and snow, but it’s just around the corner.

Tags: gardening | seeds | spring |

{name} Author: Jamie Oberdick

Bio: Editor, Local Food Journey | Passionate about supporting local food in Central PA

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