First day of springtime is near


Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.

The first official day of spring is March 20, but don't put your winter clothing away just yet because the area will still experience low temperatures.

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An azalea reaches toward the light at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville. Although the official first day of spring is March 20, Gainesville will still see cooler temperatures over the next two weeks.

ERICA BROUGH/Special to the Guardian

Kate Guillete, a meteorologist intern with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, said the seven-day forecast through Sunday calls for sunny and dry weather, with temperatures dipping into the mid-60s Thursday and lows in the upper 30s to low 40s.

On Friday, it will warm up a little, with highs in the low 70s and a low in the mid-40s. The weekend also will warm up, with temps on Saturday and Sunday in the upper 70s, with lows in the upper 40s.

After seven days, Guillete said weather can change a lot and become unpredictable. She said the 8- to 14-day outlook is an educated guess based on data.

"Weather is so unpredictable, but we do predict the best we can," said Guillete, adding that the 8- to 14-day forecast beginning Monday through March 24 calls for below-average dry weather with highs of 74 and lows of 49.

Below is the National Weather Service forecast through Sunday.

— Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 67.

— Thursday night: Clear, with a low around 39.

— Friday: Sunny, with a high near 72.

— Friday night: Clear, with a low around 45.

— Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 75.

— Saturday night: Clear, with a low around 48.

— Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 78

— Sunday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 50.

For residents interesting in springtime gardening, Wendy Wilber, environmental horticulture agent at the Alachua County IFAS Extension Office, offered a few tips for March.

She said vegetables to plant now include tomato, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, zucchini, green pepper and yellow squash. Herbs to grow now consist of basil, oregano, cilantro and thyme.

Wilber said azaleas and other shrubs should be pruned and fertilized. For lawns, Wilber recommends using a slow-release fertilizer and pruning dead material from any freeze damage.

Wilber said tropical plants, such as poinsettias, should be planted outside close to the foundation of the house and away from nighttime artificial lights.

She recommended fertilizing citrus trees with fruit fertilizer and continuing to fertilize every two months. She said fruit trees should be watered with one inch of water twice a week.

March, Wilber said, has brought highs and lows, and gardeners are really looking forward to spring gardening.

"There is excitement in the air," Wilber said. "People are geared up and revving to go and get outside to get planting."

For more gardening information, call 352-955-2402 or visit http://alachua.ifas.ufl.edu/.

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