“Spring is sooner recognized by plants than by men.” (Chinese proverb).
Over the years I’ve become interested in phenological signs as an indicator of when to plant things in my garden. Phenology is the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life. Historically, this is how farmer’s determined when to plant, by observing changes in plant and animal life coinciding with the changing seasons. I find this fascinating and have begun to employ some of these signs when planting my garden, with good results. Soil temperature and weather conditions are your most accurate indicators of when to plant, not just a date range alone, and Mother Nature is pretty good at letting us know when these conditions are right. Phenology isn’t infallible, but it is very interesting and I enjoy trying out some of the theories. Here are some of the signs that I’m looking for this spring:
Plant peppers and eggplant outside when bearded iris is in full bloom.
When daffodils begin to bloom, time to plant peas.
Plant corn when oak leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear (or when the apple blossoms begin to fall).
When the lilac has leafed out plant lettuce, peas and other cool weather crops, when it’s in full bloom plant beans, when it’s blooms have faded plant cucumbers and squash.
When dandelions are blooming plant potatoes, beets, lettuce, spinach and carrots.
Give some of these a try this year and see how they work for you.