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Be Temperate About Starting Your Garden Now, Horticulture Expert Advises

By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- If the recent temperatures in the 80s got you thinking about getting your garden ready for planting this weekend, a local expert says it's okay to begin, but you have to be selective in what you put in right now.

Sally McCabe, project manager for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's "Garden Tenders" program, says the rule of thumb for spring planting is that you can start as soon as the soil can be worked -- that is, when you are able to put a shovel into the ground that is not frozen or too wet.

She says gardeners can begin putting in their cool season crops now.

"Your root crops: your lettuces and mustards, your cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower," she advises. "Collard greens are on the border," she warns.

And McCabe cautions it's still too early for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, or sweet potatoes.

"We're not out of the woods until the end of April as far as night temperatures. The air may be warm, but the soil is not warm yet."

She suggests waiting until Mother's Day to plant those more fragile crops.

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