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Cold Could Delay Spring Planting, Work at Garden Centers

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Months of consistent snowfall and record low temperatures could make it difficult for eager greenthumbs itching to get into the garden this spring.

This is the week when Shirley Peckosh at Peck's Flower and Garden Shop usually brings her perennial plants into her greenhouse to put in potting soil.

There's one problem, though.

"There, can you see the frost crystals?" Peck asked, holding up a frozen chunk of soil. It's frozen solid, so she's hoping that bringing it inside in batches will help thaw it out.

But she's anticipating that cranking the heat in this extreme cold will mean a higher-than normal gas bill.

"It's really going to cost," Peck told us. "Usually the first part of March when we're starting our greenhouses, we're starting at maybe 20-degree nights, not 20 below nights."

This winter has also driven the ground frost to record depths, something Peckosh said may delay spring planting.

"Usually by the end of March or first part of April, we can start working the soil a little bit to maybe get some of the cool season crops in. But it's going to have to do some powerful warming before then."

Peck said other nurseries around the Midwest are experiencing the same pain. She thinks many of the places she gets her annual plants from will delay their deliveries.

"There will be a few growers who will say, 'no I won't ship it to you, we're going to delay it until next week.'"

On top of all this, Peckosh fears that the water lines to this greenhouse are probably frozen solid.

"Do I expect that we're going to have water in here? No, I really don't," Peck said. "I'd almost stake my life on it that if we turn on the water over there, there's no water coming out."

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