March 19, 2012 @ 3:13 PM


   It has been so warm and gorgeous here in the Northeast...and such a surprise, since it is only  mid-March....that I am afraid it has led people to throw all of their better judgement and knowledge out the door!! I see many fellow gardeners and herbalists, who know, that as stewards of the land, we need to bow to the whims of nature and recognize her fickleness. It is as though so many have succumbed to the Sirens of warm weather...and probably to their peril. Obviously, nobody read my blog  (or the many others available) on Phenology--the science of natural appearances. Everyone needs to come to their senses and relax....and also recognize the real downsides such as uncontrollable pests, freezing death of early laid Peeper eggs, lost fruit crop because of frost on early buds, bees dying because there are not enough flowers to pollinate this early, a longer allergy season.....  and no lilac blooms!

We hardly need this warm weather respite since we didn't have much of a winter at all--and certainly nothing like last years brutal cold and snow. So, why is everyone so eager to be lured to ignoring, rather than celebrating the real signs of Spring. All gardeners know that it damages the soil structure to till too early when it is too moist. The extra few early weeks of gardening leads to early mulching...which leads to probable mold and and a bounty crop of slugs. Anyone who has planted early also gets so excited when seedlings emerge...and then we wait...and wait.....while they sort of sit there, themselves waiting for the weather THEY really like. Meanwhile, we spend even more time weeding. Those early crops are also sparse since some  seeds rot--and when we later fill in those empty gaps with more seed, they emerge very quickly and we are harvesting off of them at the exact same time as the early ones!. Early planting leads to countless hours covering, water walling and nurturing plants that should not need such attention. It is true that gardeners are eternal optimists, but the best ones are also practical.

Then, there is the issue of bugs! Early warmth......early pest invasions. No need to invite them with something to eat earlier than we have to. There is new evidence--especially for those of us who garden in cooler climates, that actually planting LATER than we always have will increase harvest and cut way back on pest control. Hot weather plants (corn, potatoes, egglplant, peppers, cukes, pumpkins, etc) survive  the onslaught of flea beetles and the various cucumber/potato beetles if planted 1-3 weeks later (in late June to early July--rather than the end of May or earlier).

There is much to do outside right now. My advice is to stick to "nature's garden" of all the spring greens that pop up in the lawn and fields.....enjoy the bounty on its own time--with no gardening duties at all. Save the work in your cultivated gardens until as my grandmother used to say "You can sit your bare behind in the dirt without catching a chill".