Monday, May 13, 2013

Phenology: Following Nature's Clues

First harvest of Kale and Collards
This is the second season I have used Phenology, along with a combination of square foot gardening and biointensive gardening. 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.

Last year, my harvest was larger and I was able to get 3 cycles of planting and harvesting in with most of my garden beds. As of May 13th, here in Amherst, we have reached the point in this list of phenological events were the Lily of the Valley are in bloom. This means I have already planted potatoes, beans, hops, kale, collards, brussel sprouts, lettuce, carrots, garlic, onions, broccoli, cauliflower and some hardy herbs. I planted my first large tomatoes yesterday (and they will sleep under buckets at night for a few days until the warm weather returns). Even though it is only May, we are already eating salads made with lettuce, onions, carrots, radishes and beet greens from our own garden.

I have another 1200 square feet to start planting this coming weekend!

Phenology Clues

• Plant peas when forsythia bllooms
Plant potatoes when the first dandelion blooms.
• Plant beets, carrots, cold crops, lettuce and spinach when lilac is in first leaf.
• Plant corn when oak leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear.
• Plant bean, cucumber, and squash seeds when lilac is in full bloom.
• Plant tomatoes when lily-of-the-valley plants are in full bloom.
• Transplant eggplant, melons, and peppers when irises bloom.