Monday, April 2, 2012

When to Plant What - Using Phenology in the Garden

Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate. Although, I guess technically we call this phenology, usually we consider this garden lore or folk lore.  Like planting corn when the oak leaves are the size of a mouse ear.  Have you ever gardened that way?  I did one year, and did manage to have a good garden in spite of a difficult weather year.  Even though we tend to think it is just garden folklore, there is a bit of common sense in this, the native americans notices certain things during the growing season, like the soil temperature being warm enough to keep seeds from rotting corresponding with clues from surrounding plants and animals.
I expanded my garden, and since I have no hard and fast plans for it, so I am going to plant by the phenology calendar this year!

I think this is most useful in the early planting season, when you are unsure of when the last frost will hit.  As with everything in nature, these are not hard and fast rules, Mother Nature is a willful creature and will do as she pleases!

When the crocus and forsythia bloom, prune your roses and plant the peas

When the lilac first leafs out, plant your beets, carrots lettuce and spinach

When the lilacs are in full bloom, plant beans, cucumbers and squash

Plant tomatoes when the lily of the valley blooms

Transplant eggplant, melons and peppers when the bearded iris blooms


Plant corn when the apple blossoms begin to fall and the oak leaves are the size of a mouse's ear

Put your perennials in when the maple leaves unfurl

I am going to go by the plants, trees and shrubs in my neighborhood, which would be best since they are right there!  So, when I walk my dog, I take note of what is leafing and blooming.  There is much much more information available online and in farmer's almanacs, even your own family.  What are some of the gardening sayings YOU plant by?


Kristina said...

Our lilac has leaves. I wonder if I should be planting already.

Merry said...

Kristina, I put in my cool weather crops, and so far so good. The peas are sprouting and so are the lettuce, brocolli raab and swiss chard. Go for it!! One person on my block already put their tomatoe transplants in, BRAVE I tell you!