Is it too soon to ‘spring’ into gardening in NJ?
Many trees are starting to bud, some flowers are popping up and it sure feels like spring, but you probably don’t want to start gardening quite yet because the calendar still says winter.
According to Jim Johnson, an agricultural agent with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cumberland County, if it gets cold again after the current warm streak we’re enjoying, it will damage some flowers and trees that are three to four weeks ahead of schedule.
“Trees are fairly tolerant, they will generally pop back, but it’ll be a slow spring,” Johnson said. “It’s not a good idea at this stage to plant even though we’re going to have 70-degree temperatures, because it could turn around and be in the 20s in another couple of weeks. I think people should start getting ready for spring, but they’ve got to understand it’s not spring yet, do the preliminary work but don’t actually go out and plant plants quite yet.”
He explained a return to really cold weather, even for a short time, could damage flowering trees, and some fruit trees such as peach could have their crops wiped out.
So what about planting flowers in your yard?
“If they’re right near the foundation of the house they’re somewhat protected, the further out away from the house the less protected they are,” he said. “The flowers themselves can get damaged but as far as the plant surviving it shouldn’t be a big problem unless there is severe cold.”
He added the bottom line here is simple.
“I would be very leery about going and starting to plant an awful lot of plants in the next two weeks, and I would not suggest anyone put any type of vegetable out at this point,” he said.
Johnson added everyone can get out and get their bodies limbered up for gardening, but “it’s not really spring...I guess that’s the thing you’ve got to keep in mind more than anything. If you start planting now, something will have a much higher probability of being dead rather than damaged.”