As temperatures climb to record-breaking levels, gardeners naturally get anxious and want to get outside and get some seeds and plants into the soil so they’ll start growing.

But despite temperatures reaching 70 degrees in some parts of central Maine Monday and expected to reach that, and then some, Tuesday, it is still likely a bit too early to start planting in the still-cold ground and expect to have much success growing plants.

“Everybody is just so anxious to get in the soil, feel it under their fingernails and start digging,” said Robin Struck, owner of Winthrop-based D.R. Struck Landscape Nursery, where workers are preparing for the coming growing and landscaping season. “Everybody wants to see color and plant by Memorial Day.”

The National Weather Service reported the high in Augusta Monday was a new record at 70 degrees, one degree higher than the previous record of 69 degrees set in 1955. The high in Waterville got up to 71 Monday. Those temperatures were expected to be followed by still-higher numbers Tuesday.

“Tomorrow should be even a little bit warmer than today,” Michael Cempa, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said Monday afternoon. “We’re looking at the Augusta area reaching 70 to 75 tomorrow, and even warmer as you head further south.”

But the 70-degree temperatures aren’t expected to last, nor are they normal for this time of year. Temperatures are expected to drop back down to the 60s and even by Thursday into the 50s, which Cempa said are close to normal temperatures for this time of year in Maine.


Struck said the warmer weather gets people thinking about plants and getting their vegetables and landscaping plan in place.

But she said it is still a bit early for most plants.

“We’ve heard people say there wasn’t much frost in the ground this year, but the soil is still cold,” Struck said. “Even if you can start digging, the plants would prefer to have it a little warmer. We don’t recommend planting until the end of April for hardier varieties of shrubs and trees and for annuals and vegetation later in May.”

She did say some cold-tolerant crops, such as lettuce and peas, may be planted as soon as the ground is workable, which allows for an early harvest.

But for more sensitive plants like tomatoes or peppers, Struck said, “Don’t even bother thinking about it until the end of May. Everyone thinks they’ll get a jump on it in the middle of May. But the plants don’t do much. They just sit there.”

She said the landscaping and plant nursery business will steadily get more and more plants in as the seasons turn. The business recently got in a bunch of perennials, which are in their hoop house, which is heated only by the sun’s rays. She said it was “like a sauna in there” Monday, and the structure was full of plants.


Some rain is expected this week, starting as soon as Tuesday night into Wednesday, but nothing too heavy, Cempa said. Dry conditions are expected for the weekend.

Following the snow of earlier this month, the National Weather Service’s seven-day forecast is noteworthy, perhaps, for what it does not include.

Any snow.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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