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Planting by Phenology (Natural Plant and Animal Cycles)  RSS feed

 
garden master
Posts: 2016
Location: Pacific Northwest
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I was reading in the How's Your Weather? thread that some people don't start planting until forsythia and native iris start blooming. Somewhere else I read that potatoes should be planted out when the first dandelion blooms. I found this fascinating, especially when we never know when there might be another year without summer. So, I started looking for more indicators.

I found some in Planting calendar based on natural events instead of dates

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.


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.

From http://pnwbasicliving.blogspot.in/2011/01/phenology-vs-lunar-gardening.html

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.


And from http://www.harvestmoonhomesteadandfarm.com/blog/phenology-planting-by-natures-calendar

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



Image from http://www.harvestmoonhomesteadandfarm.com

Does anyone else plant by phenology? What indicators do you use for different plantings?
 
Nicole Alderman
garden master
Posts: 2016
Location: Pacific Northwest
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Oooooh, I also found this really neat website: https://www.usanpn.org/natures_notebook . It is a place for nature observers to record the phenology in their area, to track seasonal changes in plants and animals in their areas.



According to them:
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.


They're looking for more people to record observations on their website, if you're interested!
 
Posts: 230
Location: Ellisforde, WA
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Thanks for the links. There's more information online now than 5 years ago!
 
Posts: 5
Location: La Peche, West Quebec; hardiness zone 4a
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Hi

Here's a website for phenology in Canada:  https://www.naturewatch.ca/plantwatch/

They're not making the links to guide gardeners yet, but it's a start.

Cheers
El
 
Posts: 402
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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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.

That year we had a snowstorm in May.  Average last frost is about April 15.

I'm not saying phenology doesn't work or can't be trusted, but Nature's a funny thing.
 
Nicole Alderman
garden master
Posts: 2016
Location: Pacific Northwest
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I agree! I tend to plant a little bit of seed every few weeks. If they freeze and die, well, I only lost a few and can plant more. If the season is early, I'll get produce sooner. One year, I plante dpeas out January 29th, a good 2-3 weeks before most say to plant them. But, it never got cold again, and summer came soon and hot. So those peas did great and those that planted when "they were supposed to" had their peas not produce because it was too hot, too soon.

It's helpful to know what signs to look for, but it's also good to be cautious and plant successively!
 
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I have discussed some phenological and lunar calendars here www.ianslunarpages.org/calendar.html
 
pollinator
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Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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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.

From http://pnwbasicliving.blogspot.in/2011/01/phenology-vs-lunar-gardening.html


In my area (South Puget Sound) oso berry (also known as Indian plum) is generally the first native plant to leaf out in late winter. I might try planting early plants based on when it leafs out. I love the bright green new leaves it gets in late winter and I have planted 50 of them on my property.
 
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