Early Spring in SW PA?

Here in SW Pennsylvania (USDA zone 6a where I'm at) we had *very* mild weather during January & February, and winter's only decided to rear it's ugly head in the past few weeks. However, back in January I noticed my nigella seeds had germinated, and the tulips & daffodils were starting to come up. Since then there have been a lot of other things, both annuals & perennials, showing up.
This is just my 4th year as a gardener, so maybe things came up this early in years past, and I just wasn't aware of them. But it still seems awfully soon. So can someone else around here tell me if this is normal?
Jacqueline
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I am in east Texas, and we, too, have had a very mild Winter. I have daffodils, Iris, forsythia, grape hyacinths, Hyacinths, and azaleas blooming already:) I LOVE an early Spring...just makes me smile!
Angie in the boonies of East Texas

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Jaqueline, take notes, and don't assume anything from year to year. Weather is ridiculous, and like gardeners everywhere, there will be years when you are treated to unbelievable disaster and heartbreak, like a plant you FINALLY got to grow being executed by freak weather in April. Or even May. This is the reason to plant excessive amounts of stuff, and lots of variety.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'm in the same general area... heading into the Laurel Highlands... and I'll just say that you might want to be very careful in these parts when it comes to this stuff. We get a lot of false starts and spots in the middle of winter where we have mild weather for a few weeks only to be followed with single digit F and lower temps. Poorly established perennials and those that are borderline between hearty and not often try to come alive in the middle of winter and then get walloped... often not making it.For instance, I have a row of dianthus that, if planted a few miles away up the mountain, or further north near I-80 might be annuals... nonetheless some nurseries here sell them as hearty. I mulch them now as I got so used to seeing them in that bed that I just had to put them in again when they died.
I know that there will be many here who sneer at this, but it has proven over time to be the least risk for me here: I layer my maple and ash leaves heavily over marginal stuff in the fall. If it is a new plant that I put in while very young or if I look at the temp range and see it is close I pile it on, generally. Until this year I saw two real risks... hitting just the right window to take it off so as not to subject them to one of our famous late-March 70deg stretches and cook them under there, and still watch out for one of our famous late April 20 deg or lower nights. I start removing the leaves about now and then put a thinner coat back on. Sounds crazy... but it seems to work for me. The other thing is fungus that can get started under there, so I usually spray with a dose of Fungonil a few times in the spring. Leave the leaves or some other heavy cover handy... even if it doesn't look good until after Memorial Day, just in case the last minute evening news suddenly calls for a drastic and previously unpredicted dip overnight... and make certain you are watching the evening news *every* night.
Seems to be a number three these last two years, though... fricking moles. I'm not sure if you're in one of our rural areas, and soon it won't matter, but the area is under a severe infestation of the things. If you are you know that there aren't enough havahart traps being made in all of China to nab all these little bastards. I've been poisoning and shooting as has everyone for miles around since the beginning of last year and I thought that I had them seriously on the decline where I would only have to stay on top of new holes this year. Now that I have looked under the mulch I know that not to be such a promising outlook. Won't be long now until I can't put any widely applied chemicals on the property due to run-off to the pastures the cattle will soon be moving to. More birdshot in an extra clip or two and scoops of poison in the individual holes is all there will be left to try. I understand that the geniuses are going to try something to eradicate them... but that generally worries me even more <SHUDDER>
At any rate... if you're new to this, it truly is a learn as you go deal around here. Someone else replied to take notes... I can't stress how important that is. Keep tabs on how certain things respond to your location in various scenarios and you will learn how to approach our wildly varying climate from one year to the next.
Of course you could just plant only large healthy plants from major nurseries with lots of hard earned cash... making certain they are hearty from 110 above to 30 below. I find great sport in scouring the garden club sales and garage sales and flea markets and out of the way eclectic shops for small cheap and unusual oddities and then give them everything I've got to see if I can make them grow.
YMMV

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks, Ralph. Your input (and Doug's admonishment to take notes) helps a lot. I've actually lived in this area for 10 years, so I've learned how unpredictable the weather can be. I remember wearing a turtle-neck the first week of June a few years ago. I hope as time goes on I'll get a better understanding of what my plants needs, like you seem to have.
Funny you mention moles. I'm in a semi-rural area (small town surrounded by farms, and I * have* noticed that the mole population increased dramatically. I've been debating what to do about them. I can't use any chemicals because my cats go out in the fenced-in yard. One of them has made it her personal mission to eradicate the little buggers, but she can't keep up.
I'm considering applying milky spore to control Japanese beetles, under the assumption that destroying the moles' food source will make them go away. However, I haven't seen many Japanese beetles, so I'm not sure what else they're eating, and what an appropriate treatment would be. If you fnd a something that works, let me know (other than shooting them - I don't think my neighbors would appreciate it :-)
Jacqueline Carmichaels PA
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
jacqueline cahoon wrote:

Moles eat grubs and earthworms mostly. Unless you can crawl through their tunnels it will be pretty difficult to shoot them.
--

Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8b
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You haven't seen infestations of the magnitude we have around here, then. This is not like suburbanites finding a stay mole in the petunias or someone who wasted loads of money on grass... it's an all out war against critters that are causing huge amounts of damage. You cannot move the smallest rocks, boards, tarps... anything that sits for more than a day or three without seeing them scramble. 22 Birdshot (crimped... not plastic point) works best as they cannot wriggle away from all of them. Move some mulch a bit and you see them go. I mulched the veggies with straw and they had a housing plan in a week or three... hawks sit on the fence posts waiting. You can fool them for shooting purposes by laying a half sheet or so of old plywood down for a day or three and then have someone flip it up with a hoe or something and have a full clip of birdshot in the rifle.
We had two years of horrible wet and cicadas (their favorite food) and far too much clearing and such around here. They're way out of control and the simple solutions aren't working at all. Heavy poisons aren't good, as I mentioned, because of the run-off to the pastures (which are, incidentally, being affected as well). They are working on a way to thin them, but they worry me when they talk about that kind of stuff, and here's why:
In this area, a number of years ago, Multiflora were introduced as natural fence lines to help control the cattle. Idea looked good on paper, but... the birds eat the fruit and crap the seeds over the fields and the multiflora sprout everywhere. Ever try to kill multiflora? There is little that can be done to stop them short of destroying fields literally digging them out. And the seeds remain viable underground for 20+ years. Soooooooo... .. . the multiflora have become the bane of the farmers here. But wait! The geniuses have a plan:
They decided to take a rose bush that is diseased and crush it's roots and make a tea of them. Then they started spraying the multiflora (a member of the rose family) with the tea and started spreading the rose disease to kill the multiflora. It appears to be working... unfortunately, it's killing the roses, too. So they are looking for a way to stop the spread of the rose disease that they introduced into our area that will only stop it from killing the roses and keep killing the multiflora... yeah riiiiiight.
So the announcement that the same group is working on something to stop the mass infestations of moles leads one to the conclusion of YIKES!
I read someone in the paper who puts out these garden write-in advices that fielded a question from someone from our area on this and they suggested covering a tunnel to see if it's active and then putting a trap to it and thereby ridding the area of the mole... How clueless are some of these writers? Does he know how many tunnels there are? They would have to bring in truckloads of traps! The best thing that can happen is to keep poisoning the little ****** as possible without going to the point of runoff, shoot them when you can and hope for a dry year or three and let nature do the rest, IMO. I'm not sure we can take any more cures or fixes... although I might like to find a good deal on 5 gallon bottles of castor oil and see if I can fight them back as far as the pastures or the neighbor's fallow fields.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Who was that writer? Martha Stewart?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ralph D. wrote:

I have never seen moles above ground. What are they eating now that the cicadas are gone? What does clearing have to do with moles? They are not forest creatures. What kind of huge damage? Sounds more like voles to me.
--

Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8b
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.