Burnett: Warm winter so far has gardeners eager to start planting

If this weather keeps up, we will be getting our tomatoes into the ground sooner than later.

If this weather keeps up, we will be getting our tomatoes into the ground sooner than later.

Well, that may be a bit of an optimistic stretch, but in about a month and a half we could certainly be planting some peas.

Looking back at the weather records, I found a stretch of warm weather similar to this year in the winter of 1900 when high temperatures were reached in December of 11 C, January 12 C, February 12 C, March 17 C and April 26 C.

Also in the early 1920s there was a string of four or five winters where temperatures were above the norm.

I know my dad used to talk about when his family moved to Kelowna in 1922, they thought they had moved to the tropics after the winters they experienced on the farm in Weyburn Sask.

I must say, however, that when the snow does fly, as it did last Saturday, it was quite pleasant. It is a unique Canadian experience to take an evening walk and enjoy the outdoor quiet after a snowfall.

Along the way we noticed many people shoveling the snow off their driveway, which almost inspired me to do the same—but I chose to let nature do the job when I looked at the forecasted above freezing temperatures to come.

Sure enough, my driveway is clear without me moving a muscle. Is that being lazy, just smart or maybe a bit of each?

The positives of having a nice warm winter are many, but there are also a few negatives that come to mind.

One is a warm winter is usually a dry one, and without the usual snow accumulation, that can affect our water reserves.

While it’s too early to tell for sure yet, the chances of experiencing a dry summer are beginning to strengthen.

I’m getting calls and emails from gardeners that have lilies, tulips and other bulbous plants pushing through the surface which could result in some damage if the temperature drops over the next month or two.

Fruit trees as well could start to push early making them vulnerable.

On the other hand, if this warm weather keeps up, certain marginal plants such as my dwarf pampas grass will survive saving me the expense of buying a new one this spring, something I’ve had to buy the past few years.

It also means we can get going with spring gardening early this year and get some peas planted as well as chard, spinach, lettuce and other cold crops before the end of February.


I must remind everyone the bus is rapidly filling up for the trip to the North West Flower and Garden Show from Feb. 8 to 11 in Seattle.

I am so looking forward to having you aboard. The theme this year is A Floral Symphony as every musical genre will be represented.

The show is all about gardening but over the years it has been my experience that even non-gardeners appreciate the grandeur of it all as the bus trip and visit to downtown Seattle itself is worth the modest investment.

To book just give Sunwest Tours a call at 250-765-9016.



Tune in to The Don Burnett Garden Show on AM 1150 Saturdays from 8 to 10 a.m.


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