The warm weather predicted for the Greenville, NC, area this weekend may tempt you to head out to a local nursery, buy some plants and start gardening.
Whoa -- wait just a minute. Despite the spring-like weather, it's still winter!
The last frost date in Pitt County is April 1, so there's a good chance that anything you plant now won't survive until spring.
So what can a gardener with planting fever do in late February?
1. You can buy some plants -- just don't put them in the ground yet. Plant them in a pot which can be moved inside or to a protected spot if our area does experience a frost.
If you are bound and determined to plant in your flower bed now, select a sunny spot. Cover the roots with lots of mulch for protection. And make sure you have fabric to cover the plant in the event of a freezing night.
And don't blame us if your plant dies. That's just the risk you take.
2. Study seed catalogs or nursery websites and plan what you're going to plant outside after April 1. Think about creating an all-white garden, a shade garden, an herb garden or a butterfly garden this spring.
3. Purchase some seeds and sew them indoors. Seeds should be started about 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date.
Now is the perfect time for starting such vegetables as beets, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, onions, peas, spinach and tomatoes. The seedlings will be ready to transplant when the weather warms up, giving you a jump start on the growing season.
Seed starting kits are available, but you can do it yourself with things you have around the house.
4. Get your yard and flower beds ready for spring. The N.C. Cooperative Extension Service suggests that you fertilize trees, shrubs, vines and ground covers with a slow-release fertilizer. Also, apply mulch to perennial beds, trees and shrubs. And clean up pine cones and fallen branches in your yard and flower beds.
5. Instead of buying plants, spend your gardening money on supplies and tools.