Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Phenology: Following Nature's Clues

First harvest of Kale and Collards
In the past I've always planted my garden based on when the last frost for my area is calculated. This year I was introduced to the concept of Phenology so I decided to give it a try. Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate. So when you use phenology you plant based on how the native species of plants and animals in your area are behaving.


Phenology Clues

Plant peasWhen forsythia & daffodils blooms
Plant potatoesWhen 1st dandelion blooms

When the shadbush flowers
Plant beets, carrots, cole crops, lettuce and spinachWhen lilac is in first leaf
Plant beans, cucs and squashWhen lilac is in full bloom
Plant tomatoesWhen lily-of-the-valley are in full bloom
Transplant eggplant, melon and peppersWhen irises bloom
Plant cornWhen apple blossoms start to fall
Seed fall cabbage and broccoliWhen catalpas and mockoranges bloom

Seed morning gloriesWhen maple leaves reach full size
Plant cool season flowers (pansies, snapdragons...)When aspen and chokecherry trees leaf out


So far this method is working really well. I love the idea of following natures cue. For several weeks we've had lettuce, spinach and arugula fresh from the garden. Today I harvested collards and kale and put away the first bath of frozen greens for winter. I planted a second crop of collards and a few more cauliflower plants. I'm looking forward to plenty of greens all summer and enough to get us through the winter.

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