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It's urgent-question gardening season again

It's that time of year again: The time just before high gardening season kicks in when readers flood my mailbox, co-workers grab me in in the cafeteria, friends and relatives call my house and strangers stop me on the street with last-minute garden panic. OK, so maybe strangers don't stop me in the street, but I do get deluged by everyone else. And I'm happy to help, so keep the cards and letters coming.

Here are a couple of questions posed yesterday.

Will all the rain we had last week lead to a major mosquito problem this summer?

There doesn't seem to be an increased threat of mosquitoes due to the recent wet weather. Insect activity is dictated not only by weather but by something called Growing Degree Days, a measurement of heat accumulation that determines when flowers will bloom, when crops will mature and when different insect populations will hatch, mature and become problematic. Mosquitoes thrive on moisture, to be sure; but moisture must be combined with heat, which we haven't had. So, to answer your question: Last week's rain shouldn't impact the mosquito population at all.

Does everything seem to be blooming earlier this year?

Well, I've noticed my rhododendrons already are in full bloom, but I ran this past Bonnie Klein from the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County, and she thinks the oddity isn't necessarily that plants are blooming earlier, but because they seem to be blooming all at once. Forsythia, rhododendrons, cherries, pears and magnolias, which usually bloom in sequence, are all in full-bloom right now, some later than usual, some on time, some a bit ahead of schedule. We're not used to seeing all this color at once. It's not like we had a warm winter, so I have no clue as to why this may be.

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