Should You Plant Early Or Wait With These High Temps?

Tulip Drawing

Two very cool things have happened this week, and I’m pretty much freaking out with excitement:

  1. Winter became spring for a few minutes and then turned into summer (we had picnics outside every day this week!)
  2. The Smiling Gardener Academy launched yesterday (more people have joined than I had anticipated and everything seems to be going great so far!)

1. Record-Breaking Temperatures

Where I live, we’ve been breaking records for the highest temperatures every recorded in March.

It’s cooler today, but most of North and South America have been hotter than normal in the last 2 months, and the eastern half of the U.S. and up into Canada are going crazy, with more than 2000 broken records so far this month (apparently because of a combined further-north-than-usual jet stream and a huge high pressure system).

So of course I subconsciously inferred this is going on all over the world, but it doesn’t usually work like that.

Europe and parts of Asia have been extremely cold, and Australia is at the tail end of a cool summer. The western coastal U.S. and Canada have been slightly below normal, too.

Still, much of North America is in spring/summer weather right now, so should you plant early?

Actually, it’s generally best to stick close to historical averages for your planting dates. Where you live, perhaps this is the normal planting time, which means you can go ahead.

But where I live, it could still go below freezing for the next couple of months, and the soil certainly isn’t warm enough for planting, so although I’m itching to start seeds and get digging, I’m not going to rush.

Certainly if you’re in the same boat as me, you could put out some bulbs this weekend, and you could seed some early seeds like lettuce, greens and peas, but I advise against planting the bulk of your food garden now.

And if your soil is wet, it’s generally best to stay away until it dries out before getting in there and playing.

2. The Smiling Gardener Academy

Girl With Flower

I started shooting videos for the Academy about 12 months ago. I worked hard on it for 6 months and was ready to launch, but the timing didn’t feel right.

Most of the people who are interested in it weren’t thinking about organic gardening much anymore in October.

So I delayed the launch and have been patiently waiting for this time all winter.

If you have any interest at all in turning your organic garden into a paradise of beauty and nutrient-dense food, I hope you will join me in the Academy. Here’s why:

  • My best thinking goes into the Academy.
  • It’s very inexpensive if you get in now.
  • There are a couple of very cool bonuses.
  • You get your money back if you don’t love it.

I truly believe this is the most valuable online resource available for organic gardeners who want to grow the best gardens possible, especially those who want to grow organic food.

Question: What’s the weather like where you are this weekend and what are you doing in the garden?


  1. Dave on March 24, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks for this Phil. It was nice to hear it from a fellow Canadian. My garlic burst through the soil and mulch layer during these last few weeks, and it’s been very tempting to go out and plant; however, I’ll stick to your advice and possibly just plant some greens. Thank you. Congrats on the Academy! There is nothing else like it on the planet.

  2. Cassandra Truax on March 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I’ve looked at some climate data that says when it’s dry in Texas and parts of Mexico, it’s extra cold in Europe – which is the pattern we’re coming out of.  It’s due to the gulf stream becoming diluted with cooler water.  Something to think about.

  3. Patrickpool on March 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    how do I sign up for the  academy?

    • Phil on March 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm
      • jennintheyarden on March 25, 2012 at 4:50 am

        for how many months? ad infinitum?

        • Phil on March 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm

          Right now, the bulk of what I want to teach is covered in 12 months. After that, if there are topics that warrant 2.5-ish hours of video like each of the first 12 months, I’ll keep going, as long as I feel like I’m providing incredible value to you.

  4. Malokia Steele-Cooper on March 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Its been as high as 80 here this past week in central Indiana. Major scary t-storm that went on for hours late last night. About 72 here right now, bright & sunny, no wind. Itching to get started myself. We have an above-ground, 8X10 garden plot. My co-gardener wants to wait til Mother’s Day weekend, same wkend as last yr, to plant all the fruits & veggies. Going to replace our shrubs next week, and plant the marigolds the wk after that. Then roses, blackberry & blueberry starts @end of April. Then the veggies. That’s our gardening achedule.

  5. Dalabunny on March 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Phil, teaching my Grandkids organic gardening.  Love your comments and info.just signed up for your academythank you

  6. Billw626 on March 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Hi Phil, sound advice especially with the capriciousness of Spring on the Canadian prairies. After a mild winter here as elsewhere recent snow and temps in the minus teens make planting feel a long ways off. Still the foot or so of snow on the ground here in Central Alberta is much less than last year and some others. When spring arrives it can be sudden and dramatic, as can the lengthening day light hours. As you probably know the May long weekend is traditional planting but we can usually start a month before that, while hotter weather transplants must often wait until early June. All worth the wait, thoughThanks for everything.

  7. Suzanne Fulton on March 25, 2012 at 12:38 am

    I’ve planted some mesclun & snow peas. Miniature lettuces have sprouted from the seed heads I laid down in the garden. Last year I had cilantro babies that overwintered & I was picking in late April. This is all in Peterborough, Ontario.

  8. Sara on March 25, 2012 at 1:07 am

    I had some old-ish pea, lettuce, parsley, and spinach seeds that I figured I would give an early shot in a corner of my garden – I wasn’t planning on using the seeds anyway…the greens are under a row cover, and sprouted up within a week. The rest will wait at least until mid-May though.

  9. Markie_man2 on March 25, 2012 at 3:38 am

    I find planting alittle earlier usually results in low or no germination.I think it is well worth waiting until the soil has warmed up.

  10. jennintheyarden on March 25, 2012 at 4:39 am

    I never stopped gardening (here in Southern California) this winter. Not because it was unseasonably warm, but because we can…and should. That said, I don’t waste time and space planting from seed November-February. I plan to start seeding flats in the next few weeks and i will attend a Tomatomania event soon to pick up a few heirloom seedlings to put in the warmest parts of the Yarden.

  11. Rims421 on March 26, 2012 at 2:09 am

    They are forcasting lows around 22F. for CT.Do you think it will injure my Garlic?The garlic was planted last fall as usual.But with the super warm temps. we have been having this spring it is already 6-8 inches tall.I have almost 900 bulbs planted.What should I do?

    • Phil on March 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      I’m in the same boat as you, and I’ve never had a problem in the past with late frosts on my garlic. But making sure they’re well mulched can’t hurt, and spraying them with liquid kelp wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

  12. Dwheelis13 on March 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I live in Northwest Florida, Pensacola actually, where the temperature is in the 60s at night and low 80s during the day. So, I almost feel like I should appoligize, but you know, I really enjoy being able to garden year round. This weekend we are harvesting aspargus, watching the blackberry bushes put on new growth, harvesting cabbage and transplanting tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, and zucchini.

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