Early spring tempts home gardeners to start planting

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COLUMBIA - Temperatures in Mid-Missouri have been unseasonably warm lately, so it is common to see flowers blooming in March.

According to The Weather Channel, the average high temperature for March 11th is 53 degrees. On March 11th, 2016, the high reached 63 degrees.

Because of this, many household gardeners are tempted to start their gardens now. Steven Sapp, owner of Strawberry Hill Farms in Columbia, warns against this.

“There’s already people requesting tomato plants, pepper plants and other things, but it’s really just too early to do,” Sapp said. “This actually is the time to start for early season crops like lettuce and beets and turnips and carrots. We sell quite a bit of seed potatoes and onions this time of year.”

Sapp advises against planting those more temperature-sensitive plants until after the frost free date, which according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, is April 13th for mid-Missouri.

“Typically you want to wait on a lot of those regular vegetables for the garden in late April, mid to late April.”

Toby Barnes had been gardening with his parents since he was five years old, and said the warm weather is making him apprehensive to start up again.

“I want to get stuff in, but this time of year if you get it in too early, especially vegetables and things, you can lose them,” Barnes said. “Generally speaking, with tomatoes you gotta wait until the last frost date. May is safer, because we can get frosts all the way up into May.”

As for those who already have things planted, Sapp recommends to watch the weather.

“If there’s a chance for a potential frost, you need to cover your plants. It’s best to do it with cloth or cardboard, not with plastic. But a lot of cool season things are ok, they can take a frost.”