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What Happened to Winter?

By Paul James

I realize that people all over the country read this post, so I apologize in advance to those who’ve experienced harsh winter weather (including my brother in Emily, Minnesota). But here in my neck of the woods, it’s been an incredibly mild winter overall, with only a dusting of snow, no ice (thank goodness!), and dozens of days of above-average temperatures. Of course all that is subject to change without notice.

That’s why I urge you to resist the temptation to plant too early, and instead stick with well established planting schedules. After all, it’s still winter. And it’s a fairly safe bet that we’re not out of the woods yet, so to speak. In other words, if you succumb to the temptation to plant, you’ll likely be tempting fate.

Sure, it’s okay to plant trees and shrubs, as well as cold hardy stuff such as hellebores and pansies. But for most other plants, both ornamentals and edibles, you should wait, regardless of whether you plan on planting seeds or transplants. And thankfully, most garden centers don’t stock plants until it’s at least close to the safe planting date.

Besides, there’s still plenty of gardening to be done, such as pruning deciduous trees and shrubs (except for those that bloom in early spring), amending the soil with plenty of organic matter (whether purchased in bags or from your compost pile), starting plants from seed indoors, sprucing up garden beds, cleaning garden tools, and maybe expanding an existing garden area or creating a new one.

I spent over 10 hours tackling many of those very tasks last weekend when temperatures were in the 60s. And I’ll be at it again this weekend when temps are forecasted to climb into the 70s. I’ll probably spend the bulk of my time in the veggie garden given that in just two or three weeks I’ll be planting potatoes and onions.

Sorry, brother. Enjoy shoveling the snow.

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