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02/29/2012 02:35 pm ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

A Warm Winter Encourages Early Spring Gardening

To garden now or not to garden now...that seems to be the question we're asking on these warm winter days. While we're convinced by this recent observation that it's still the winter season, the fair climate here on the east coast is feeling a lot like spring. So, should the spades come out or is it still too soon? Turns out, you can start already, as NPR food blog The Salt reports.

The garden appropriate climate in February is due to Positive Arctic Oscillation, "according to this CBSDC article. It's a phenomenon when "low air pressure in the Arctic region creates a jet stream that blocks cold air from leaving," Arthur DeGaetano of the Northeast Regional Climate Center says in the same CBSDC article.

But science aside, for many people, the warm climate is suggestive of an early spring and gardening season, and in places like South Texas, gardening has already started fully. Scott Aker, head of horticulture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Arboretum, explains in the NPR post that it has a lot to do with soil temperature being as warm as in the 50s during the day, which is condition for seeds to grow. "You could sow right now...you could sow arugula, winter cress, and even give lettuce and carrots a shot," he says. Aker adds that wet soil makes gardening difficult and cold weather interferes with the evaporation process in plants. Thanks to the warm winter, these are not factors this year. However, while anticipating great weather, Aker along with other garden experts suggest sticking to vegetables like lettuce and spinach, which is a hardy winter plant.

We're definitely not complaining about the warm winter weather, but early spring gardening in February is throwing us off a little here. And while we do have big gardening ideas on our brain, the extreme weather over the past few seasons, from snow in October to a few barely chilly winter days in January, has us wondering (worrying) if the coming summer weather will be just as fickle. Your thoughts? Let us know in comments below.

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