Weird Winter Weather Could be Bad News for Gardeners
We've seen a lot of mild, sunny days in the north country lately.
The snow has more or less vanished.
Some plants are even greening up to grow.
It's only February.
"It's certainly not typical of what we're used to. There's a lot more sunlight," said Jolene Rhodes, co-owner of Rhodes Greenhouses.
The weird winter weather has some plants confused about the calendar.
"If we do have a warm spell in the middle of winter, it will induce these plants to think it's spring and wake up and start doing their thing," said Sue Gwise, horticulture educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County.
If those plants are prized perennials, that could be bad news for gardeners as soon as the temperatures inevitably plunge again.
"The tips will freeze and then it just retards the growth and hurts the plant," said Rhodes.
Snow cover usually plays an important role in protecting plants and roots from temperature changes.
The same goes for the deep frost that kills off insects and other pests.
We haven't had a whole lot of either.
But what Mother Nature won't provide, gardeners can do themselves.
"Warm soapy dish water goes a long way to killing a lot of bugs - so really, really soapy dish water," said Rhodes.
And instead of snow, a thick layer of mulch will do the trick.
"That will keep them frozen until they really need to wake up at the proper time," said Gwise.
Experts say it's not too late to take the steps to protect your garden.
There's still a long way to go until spring - now if only the plants would get the message.
Sunday, May 19, 2013, Watertown, NY
On Wall Street