Gardening will have to wait

Despite warm Feb. temperatures, outdoor gardeners should wait for spring

A lift in spirits may have come over many central Iowans as warm rays of sunshine graced the area most of this week, and some may have given thought to their outdoor gardens.

However, with cold weather that began to seep back into Marshall County looking to only get colder, it would be best to wait on that outdoor garden, for now.

“Right now, a lot of people are starting their seeds indoors,” said Earl May Nursery and Garden Center Manager-Associate Larissa Siemens. “(Some gardeners) are starting their seeds indoors.”

She said now is a good time for those sporting green thumbs to check out seeds to begin the growing process early, adding it is yet too early to begin gardening outdoors, even with literally hot-and-cold weather from day to day and week to week.

A calendar on theiowagardener.com, a website with information for gardening enthusiasts in Iowa, aligns with Siemens’ suggestion on indoor seeds. Specifically, the website states “leeks, onions, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and perennial flowers and herbs” in February.

The earliest the website’s calendar suggests planting outside is in the last half of March, and it suggests planting “fast-germinating, cool-season vegetables, such as radishes spinaches and lettuces …” directly into the ground once the soil can be easily worked.

Early April sees a similar trend, this time with annuals that prefer cool weather, such as bachelor’s buttons and larkspur.

Other plants that can usually be included in an outdoor garden in April include cool-season flowers, vegetables and herbs, peas, potatoes, strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries and asparagus, among others, according to the website.

May, when cooler weather often gives way to late-spring warmth, can see gardeners plant container-grown trees, shrubs and roses, as well as grass seed.

After the last average frost date, around May 15 in central Iowa, the calendar suggests planting warm-season seedlings and annual vegetables, as well as warm-season herbs like basil.

For garden lovers, it may yet be too early to start digging into the dirt outside, but it won’t be long before spring arrives, with gardening opportunities a-plenty.

For more information, go to www.theiowagardener.com/Planting_Calendar_for_Iowa.html