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Spring Fever Hits, But Hold Off on Most Gardening

by Katie Pyzyk February 1, 2012 at 1:10 pm 3,014 17 Comments

Warmer than normal temperatures have many people experiencing spring fever in our area. While the trails and parks are swarming with revelers trying to soak up the sun, it may not be time to get out the gardening gear just yet.

The sporadic 50 and 60 degree days have some bulbs sprouting early and have even prompted a pollen update today. The Capital Weather Gang reports that January broke our string of three colder than average winters. The average temperature of 40.8 was only 4.8 degrees warmer than the normal of 36, but brought us the 17th warmest January on record since 1871.

So with the early sprouting and continued mild weather, is it OK to start gardening yet? Not so fast. According to Manager Carey Fortnoff at Bill’s True Value Garden Center (4756 Lee Hwy), it all depends on what you’re going to plant. Small ground plants could still die if another cold snap occurs. Frost would harm the roots and kill the entire plant. Fortnoff says it’s best to wait until mid-March when the threat of frost has passed.

If you can’t wait that long and want to take advantage of the mild conditions, soil can be tilled and fortified with peat and lime right now. Some larger trees and bushes also may be able to withstand another chill if put in the ground soon. Pansies are also a popular choice for planting immediately due to hardiness. Another popular option is to germinate seeds in starter pots indoors, then move the small plants outside in March.

Fortnoff said although most of the spring planting supplies are already in or on their way, the rush of gardeners hasn’t hit yet.

“February is our graveyard month,” Fortnoff said. “But if you have something in mind you know you want to do, like seeding grass, come in and browse.”

If you do want to get some yard work in, now is the time. This may be the last dry 60 degree day we experience for a while. It’s also a good time to buy gardening supplies while items are well stocked.

  • Mr.T

    Woah slow down on the planting folks! You better check with Manager Carey Fortnoff at Bill’s True Value Garden Center first!

  • novasteve

    See, I plant all year round. Because I do hydroponics because I’m poor and live in an apartment 🙁

  • cheeseeater

    My daffodils are almost ready to bloom. I keep burying them with more mulch, but they won’t stop growing! I wonder if this means they’ll die if we get a cold snap. They started coming up in December.

  • ShirliMan

    On Christmas morning, my place had two clusters of daffodils in full bloom. Looked more like Easter.

  • Arlington Public Library, Public Information

    Want gardening tips?

    Garden talks will be held most Wednesdays, 7 p.m., beginning March 14 at the community vegetable garden near the tennis courts at Arlington’s Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy.


  • Feburary 1st! Time to plant the lettuce!

  • G Clifford Prout

    I’m as restless as a willow in a windstorm, I’m as jumpy as puppet on a string
    I’d say that I had spring fever, but I know it isn’t spring
    I am starry eyed and vaguely discontented, like a nightingale without a song to sing
    O why should I have spring fever, when it isn’t even spring
    I keep wishing I were someone else, walking down a strange new street
    And hearing words that I have never heard from a girl I’ve yet to meet
    I’m as busy as a spider spinning daydreams, spinning spinning daydreams
    I’m as giggy as a baby on a swing
    I haven’t seen a crocus or a rosebud, or a robin on the wing
    But I feel so gay in a melancholy way, that it might as well be spring
    It might as well be spring.

    • YTK

      Awwww. That WAS nice– thank you.

    • novasteve

      oh God I’m embarrassed to admit I know this song.

  • YTK

    Gee what a prittty piksha of Pansies — let’s remember this later on this month…….

    • novasteve

      Should be the official flower of the hipsters here.

  • Bluemontsince1961

    Tommy Wolf and Fred Landesman:

    “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most”

    Once I was a sentimental thing;
    threw my heart away each spring.
    Now a spring romance
    hasn’t got a chance.
    Promised my first dance to winter.
    All I’ve got to show’s a splinter
    for my little fling.

    Spring this year has got me feeling
    like a horse that never left the post.
    I lie in my room
    staring up at the ceiling.
    Spring can really hang you up the most.

    Morning’s kiss wakes trees and flowers,
    and to them I’d like to drink a toast.
    But I walk in the park
    just to kill the lonely hours.
    Spring can really hang you up the most.

    All afternoon the birds twitter-twitt.
    I know the tune. This is love, this is it.
    Heard it before
    and don’t I know the score.
    And I’ve decided that spring is a bore.

    Love seems sure around the new year.
    Now it’s April. Love is just a ghost.
    Spring arrived on time,
    only what became of you, dear?
    Spring can really hang you up the most.
    Spring can really hang you up the most.

    Love came my way. I thought it would last.
    We had our day, now it’s all in the past.
    Spring came along, a season of song,
    full of sweet promise
    but something went wrong.

    Doctors once prescribed a tonic.
    Sulfur and molasses was the dose.
    Didn’t help one bit.
    My condition must be chronic.
    Spring can really hang you up the most.

    All alone, the party is over.
    Old man winter was a gracious host.
    But when you keep praying
    for snow to hide the clover,
    spring can really hang you up the most.

    Nobody can sign this like Betty Carter!

    And I’ll take this balmy and kind (so far) winter weather over the past three or so winters any day of the week!

    • Bluemontsince1961

      Ummm…”sing this like Betty Carter”…dern “fat fingers”

  • G Clifford Prout

    That mischievous child,
    Winter, runs through the north woods,
    Once more, before bed.

  • R. Griffon

    Wow – I’m really shocked that this is only the 17th warmest Jan. on record. I’ve only been in VA for ~15 years, but I don’t EVER remember anything even close to this. It seems like I can count the sub-freezing days on one hand.

    • You only need to think back to the last two to remind yourself what it can be like around here! But, I think the five before that we really barely had any snow at all.

      When I was a kid, it was always cold and snowed a lot. Of course, I was only 3 feet tall so the snow probably just seemed deeper…..

  • you can grow all year round in a greenhouse!


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