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  • Last modified 941 days ago (Feb. 25, 2016)

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Will spring come early?

Staff writer

Above-average temperatures for this time of year have some gardeners itching to get a head start on spring planting. An early spring may be on the way, and lettuce, peas, and other early crops soon can be planted.

According to weather.com, long-range forecast models are “unusually consistent” in their message for spring and early summer.

“Warm in the north, cold in the south” is the forecast, and Kansas is in the middle, with slightly above average temperatures from March through May.

Temperatures are expected to dip below freezing now and then through the middle of March, but after that, it’s clear sailing. So they say.

This forecast may be in line with the Feb. 2 discovery that the Punxsutawney Phil did not officially see his shadow, forecasting an early start to spring. It’s only the 18th time since 1887 that the celebrated groundhog predicted winter was at an end. However, he’s been “right” 13 times, and “wrong” 15 times.

Longtime farmers-market gardener Darlene Carlson said she is following her usual production schedule and is not paying attention to forecasts of an early spring.

“An unexpected hard frost can hit as late as the middle of May,” she said.

She is preparing the soil in raised beds, installing drip irrigation tubes, and laying down weed cloth.

Next week she will begin starting tomato and pepper plants in her greenhouse. Onions, potatoes, and lettuce will go in the ground around the middle of March. Some hardy greens, such as kale and collards, may go in sooner.

Carlson said this is a good time to plant perennials such as bushes and trees.

Last modified Feb. 25, 2016

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