I call the winter of 2011-’12 the winter that wasn’t. We had very little snow and the temperatures were never really cold. And now here it is, the middle of March, still winter according to the calendar, and it feels like May. Strange to say the least.
As a gardener who really wants to get my hands in the soil but also as one who has almost five decades of gardening experience under my belt, I have to keep telling myself, “Whoa – it’s still March!”
Just this past weekend I was able to till the vegetable garden – a job usually done in mid April. The sun was shining, the temperature was warm and the soil was perfect for tilling. Everything in me wanted to plant the vegetable garden. It felt like I could plant but I had to remind myself that for the next two months there’s still the likelihood of a hard freeze. I checked the seed packets of some of the hardier vegetables like carrots, beets and lettuce and they all stated to plant about 4 weeks before the frost-free date. Based on the frost-free date of early to mid May here in southern PA, this means planting of these vegetables can begin in April, not March!
I did plant a few things – peas, onion sets and a little spinach – and that satisfied my itch to plant! These plants tend to be the hardiest of all the vegetables so I was willing to take the chance of planting them. But everything else needs to wait. This year is deceptive. It might be in the 70’s now but I don’t believe it will stay this warm. So instead of rushing the season, I’m planning to take advantage of this warm weather to prepare for planting. This is a great time to clean flower beds of leaves and branches, trim bushes and trees, till soil for planting, build a new raised bed and get ready for the busy spring planting season to come. All of this work should keep me busy until it’s truly safe to plant.