SHARECOMMENTMORE

By Alex Fees

St. Louis (KSDK) - It seems spring has sprung, and gardening experts say go with it.

Michelle Fields works at Bayer's Garden Shop on Hampton.

"Well this year we have had quite a bit of early, early spring and summer. Everything is starting to green-up early; the grass is. All the flowers are in full bloom. It's been a magnificent year for azaleas. Also spyreas going crazy, that's the white flowering one. So soil's warmed up early; we can plant stuff early," she said.

Fields said gardeners will notice an increase in insect activity, due to the warmer-than-normal winter.

"Right now I've even got tomatoes at my house in the ground for 3 weeks now," she said.

But meteorologists are talking about the possibility of temperatures in the 40s next week.

"That's okay," said Fields. "So long as it's not going below, closer to freezing. And even then just go outside and put a blanket or light sheet over. You can use bricks to hold them down, or tacks. Works beautifully. All you're trying to do is give insulation for overnight so they are warm for the evening. But then in the morning, pop it back off."

At what temperature should gardeners consider covering plants with a sheet?

"Forty degrees is a good temperature. If they think it's going to be below 40 for the evening, there's no reason they can't. There are a lot of things like sweet potato vine, it's highly, highly detrimental for it to get cold. But things like pansies, they don't care. Cool season crops like lettuce, spinach, kales, all perfectly fine for cool temperatures. At about 35 I would start to worry about the tomatoes and peppers. But at 40 you're safe no matter what you do," said Fields.

She said the early spring has moved things up for them at Bayer's.

"Absolutely, we're about a month to a month-half ahead of where we normally are at this time of year. But Mother Nature says go, and we're going with Mother Nature on this one," she said.

What about the old adage about not planting before Mother's Day?

"Well that's the very common thing for a lot of people," said Fields. "The Farmer's Almanac a lot of time will agree with that. Mother Nature often times doesn't pay attention to our calendar dates. But usually Mother's Day is a safe time; everybody knows we're past the last frost by then. I go by April 15th. And that's when I cut my rose bush back. But that's the only thing I've waited on."

Fields said some plants may not fair so well, due to the warm winter.

"The big difference between a short winter and the almost no winter that we had is the fact that we're going to have a lot of insect activity. There are some things that needed to go dormant for the winter that didn't quite get to sleeping time, so they're probably not going to perform as well this year as they have in previous years. And that would include things like if you planted tulip bulbs last fall. Because they just didn't get enough of a hibernation period to be adequate as far as they're blooming and beauty," she said.