Mike Gaughan wrote:The term you are looking for is "phenology", defined by Wikipedia as the "study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate, as well as habitat factors (such as elevation)."
I began using planting signs this gardening season with good success. Some signs I use here in central Connecticut (Zone 6) include:
plant peas when the daffodils bloom or spring peepers sing
plant spring veggies when dandelions are in bloom or the lilacs have leafed out
plant bush beans and summer squash when the lilac flowers have faded
transplant tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant when the bearded iris is in bloom.
I did transplant kale, cabbage, and chard according to a calendar date based on X number of weeks before the last frost date. The plants were severely set back by a hard, lingering winter here in New England. The "rescue" transplants that I set out when the dandelions bloomed did just fine. Lesson learned! This stuff is for real, because the native vegetation are far more tuned into soil temperatures and day length than are we, the gardeners.
Peas when the Crocuses, Forsythia, and/or Daffodil bloom.
Swiss chard, spinach, beets and onions when Daffodils are in bloom.
Potatoes when the first Dandelion blooms.
Beets, carrots, cole crops, lettuce, and spinach when the Lilac is in first leaf.
Beans, cucmbers, and squash when the Lilac is in full bloom.
Tomatoes when Lily of the Valley is in full bloom.
Melon and pepper transplants when Irises bloom.
Corn, beans, and cucumbers when apples blossoms start to fall.
Tomatoes, melons, peppers, corn, and beans when Flowering Dogwood is in full bloom.
Tomatoes, melons, and eggplant when Peonies flower.
Fall crop cabbage and broccoli seeds when Mock Orange flowers or after Dogwoods have dropped their flowers.
Plant peas when forsythia and/or daffodils bloom, when red winged blackbird females return, or when chickadees build their nests
Plant potatoes when the first dandelions bloom
Plant beets, carrots, cabbage family crops, lettuce and spinach when lilac leaves unfurl
Plant beans, cucumbers and squash when lilacs are in full bloom
Transplant eggplant, melon, and peppers when irises are in full bloom
Plant corn when apple blossoms begin to fall, or when oak leaves are the size of a squirrel's ear
Plant perennials when maple leaves unfurl
Seed fall cabbage and broccoli when catalpa trees and mock-orange bushes bloom
Set out tomatoes when daylilies start to bloom, or when flowering dogwoods are in bloom
A cold front has slowed the spread of spring in the Midwest and Northeast. Spring has arrived in parts of Colorado and Utah 2-3 weeks early.
Nicole Alderman wrote: I went searching for more information, and thought I'd compile it here. Since I live in the Pacific Northwest/Cascadia, these are compiled from bloggers in my area. Supposedly it's best to find out the phenology of your own region.
Wes Hunter wrote:A caution:
A few years ago I was at a farm conference, and a local tomato farmer was talking about how the turkey vultures returned like clockwork on one particular day every year. This year, however, the turkey vultures returned quite early. I don't recall the specifics, but I think it was at least two or three weeks. So the farmer decided to move their production forward that number of weeks, using the turkey vultures as their guide.
Joylynn Hardesty wrote:Many years ago I read that spring planting should be done when oak leaves were the size of a squirrel's ears.
I've observed that here, different oak varieties "spring" over several weeks' time! I'm stuck with the "last frost date" as a guide.
Chris Palmberg wrote:So there are several easy ways to ID oak trees. Burr Oak acorns have a husk that covers all but the tip, and are generally round. Pin Oak acorns are extremely small, roughly 1/2" in diameter. Red & White Oak have similar, classic acorns, but there are differences in the leaves and branches.