Friday, February 3, 2012

10 Ways that the mild winter might make spring and summer a bummer

Are you enjoying this mild winter? I know I am. Lower heating bills, fewer car accidents, less damage caused to the environment from the use of de-icing products. And there are plenty of gardeners out there taking advantage of these mild temperatures to get an early start on their spring gardens.

But if you are like me, you are probably wondering what this mild spring might mean for the rest of the year. And since I found quite a few NEGATIVES that might result from the beautiful days we have been experiencing for the past few months, my advice to you is Seize the Day! Get out and enjoy.

10 ways the mild winter might make spring and summer a bummer

  1. A mild winter could mean more rats in the spring. A mild winter means that fewer rats and mice die from natural causes, so more will be seen in the spring. Follow this link for tips on rat control.
  2. Mild winters could bring more insects in the spring - Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, a professor of entomology and a specialist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program says,“If the winter of 2011-12 continues in the mild pattern that most of the U.S. has seen, I think 2012 will be a very buggy year.”
  3. Mild winters affect food crops (which could mean higher priced produce)- Fruits such as peaches require “chill hours” for trees to bloom and produce good fruit.
  4. Mild winter could mean earlier allergy season - a mild winter may cause trees to pollinate earlier and bring an early start to the allergy season, and potentially a longer season (American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology 2007).
  5. Mild winter may bring more deer to your garden in the spring - David W. Wolfe, a professor of plant and soil ecology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the chair of the Climate Change Focus Group in the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future says, “A mild winter will mean bigger deer populations in the spring because the deer have more to eat with less snow cover and more vegetation exposed for them to feed on all winter.”
  6. More invasive weeds – “It also will benefit some insect pests and invasive weeds like kudzu that normally are killed back during winter because of severe cold.” (Wolfe)
  7. More fungi - Over 80 percent of our plant diseases are caused by fungi. A mild winter allows those fungal spores and structures to live on more, decaying moist plant parts.
  8. Warm winters can confuse our plants - “Warmer winter temperatures can also confuse our plants that are expecting to get cold and stay cold until spring,” Richard Hentschel, U of Illinois Extension horticulture specialist. “We often see this in early spring bulbs and tender perennials that try to start to grow too early and damaged by frosts and drops in temperatures below freezing.”
  9. Warm winter can actually make plants deacclimate to the cold, so they are weaker for subsequent winters.
  10. Less natural new plant life - with stratification officially on hold with this nice weather its very possible that nuts and some wild plant seeds will simply not germinate well.  It won't be the end of the world but if you've put something in the ground with the hopes that it will stratify I hate to say it but you might want to dig it up and use your freezer instead.

Recovering the Native Lupine Population in Maryland - AWS Lecture Series

Interested in protecting native wildflowers? Join the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) on Wednesday, February 15, for their next Lecture Series event and learn about the unique habitats where Maryland's remaining lupines (Lupinis perennis) grow, the factors responsible for their decline, and the successful efforts that are being made to save them. Presenter Sara Tangren is an instructor of Soils and Environmental Policy at Johns Hopkins University, and founder of the native gardening effort at the University of Maryland campus in College Park. AWS Lecture Series: Recovering the Native Lupine Population in Maryland Date: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm Location: AWS Office 4302 Baltimore Avenue Bladensburg, MD RSVP to: The Anacostia Watershed Society Office: (301) 699-6204 E-mail: Website: Information provided by Kathy Jentz, Editor, Washington Gardener Magazine

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