With temperatures 20 degrees higher on the average for our spring, it's very tempting to get an early start in the garden, isn't it.

With temperatures 20 degrees higher on the average for our spring, it's very tempting to get an early start in the garden, isn't it.

I have my raised bed kitchen garden at least started.

My $14 University of Missouri Extension soil test results are back. The soil ph is around 7 - amazing what a year of devoted composting will do - so now I need to get more nitrogen into the ground.

I've planted lettuce, spinach, peas, radishes - several carrot tops to see if they'll grow - and 7 different kinds of garlic in buried pots, hoping this will remind the garlic to stay put.

Yes, I know, wishful thinking!

It's been so mild, tomatoes, peppers, cantaloupe and watermelon seeds are sprouting on their own from last year's crop.

I'm going to pot a few and bring them inside just in case we have a cold April.

Strawberries are also in bloom, and it's hard to miss catnip, oregano and Sweet William patches popping out of left over concrete blocks I use for borders.

I've found two websites that look like good tools to use in planning this year's garden: Sproutrobot.com will send you weekly emails telling you what to plant where based on your zip code for free. You can also sign up for a service that sends you seed for a price.

At SmartGardener. com, you can design your garden, get weekly reminders and research plants in their extensive online library.

Now to answer a few emails:

Nancy, the best way I've found to remove bush honeysuckle is to literally pull it out of the ground. The good news is that I've found it's relatively easy to pull after a good rain, especially if the plants are 3-feet tall or less. For plants that are established, they need to be cut down and the stumps treated with a topical product like Roundup to discourage further sprouting. I'm going to use the cut down plants for tomato stakes in my garden this year; they grow surprising straight and fast so I'm going to put that to good use!

Joe, working with honeybees has been one of the most fascinating things I've ever done so yes, I would encourage you to give it a try. You can put as little or as much time into it as you wish. If you want to get started in beekeeping, check out the beekeeping books at Rolla Free Public Library and attend Mid-Missouri Beekeeping meetings, held 3rd Sunday of the month at 2 p.m. in St. James. You will get to hear from other area beekeepers and learn the language and tools before you invest in anything. More experienced beekeepers will repeatedly say even they get periodically surprised by something bees do so the more we share, the better off everyone is, including bees!

Marilyn, so glad you're enjoying my columns but no, no one tells me what to write. If there's a topic you want me to cover just let me know and I'll be glad to address it.

Finally to David, thank you for the poem, it was charming!
Charlotte Ekker Wiggins shares her gardening adventures at http://www.bluebirdgardens.com/gardening_to_distraction