I’m Ready To Garden, But It’s Too Early (Warning!)

What a March it’s been across the Quad Cities.  We’ve been in the 70s and 80s for highs twelve times this month counting today’s forecast of 78°!  Temperatures are running more than 15° above average and this, so far, is the warmest March on record in the metro area and those records go back to the 1870s!

Flowers and bushes are blooming and trees are bursting with color and buds.

(Sand Cherry Tree in our front yard)

Last weekend, Ray and I planted a White Pine, two Emerald Green Arborvitae, and a Golden Honey Locust “memorial tree” for Miss ABBA.  It’s perfect because this is the time of the year to plant fruit and shade trees.

While daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths are brightening up yards early this spring, hostas on “Hosta Hill” are already taking off.

While all of these flowers, blooms, and greenery are making me and many others smile, I’m getting antsy to plant more.  I’m ready for the herbs, tomatoes, and other tender vegetation plants.  And, Lowe’s isn’t helping matters by having them already in stock!

Instead of having a garden this year, I’m just going to plant  two or three cherry or grape tomato vines in memory of Miss ABBA.  As you know, tomatoes were her favorites and she didn’t have a problem snagging them when they turned red. I’m going to cover the ground under the tomatoes with a mound of alyssum, a white flowering plant is that is part of the mustard family.

As much as I want to start planting, it is way too early and this is my warning for you, too!  As I look at the long-term computer models, there is a batch of colder, Canadian air poised to arrive across the Midwest and Great Lakes late next week and weekend (April 5-9th).  While it’s still more than a week out and the air could moderate (fingers crossed!), early indications are that it could bring some scattered frost or a freeze across the Mississippi Valley or nearby.  And, believe it or not, there could be a rain/snow mix not too far away!

That isn’t unusual.  The average date for the last freezing temperature (32°) in the Quad Cities is April 20th.  The latest date that we’ve had a freezing temperature was on May 21, 2002.  Last year, we even saw a freezing temperature (29°) on May 4th!

Here’s a map of the average date of the last spring freeze (28° or colder).  The difference between a frost and freeze is that a frost can occur with temperatures above freezing and if you take precautions of covering plants and flowers, they will likely survive.  However, a freeze will typically kill any unprotected plants or flowers and can even cause damage to protected ones.

So, with this, I’ll just mow the yard and count down the days until I can plant flowers, herbs, and veggies.

By the way, I believe that peppermint is the “Cher” of herbs.  It will survive anything. 🙂  This is from our herb garden and this is the peppermint that is already up and taking over the garden.  Luckily, some lemon balm is already bursting through the ground and looking good.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Dorothy DeMay on March 27, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Thanks Anthony for this article because, like you, I’m itching to plant. This just helped me put things back in check!


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