PHENOLOGY by Sandra Stafford
No, it is not Phrenology, the ancient practice of reading the bumps on someone’s head to foretell their future. Phenology is another very old, and fascinating, technique for timing plantings with the blooming or leafing out of other plants in your garden. The word Phenology is derived from the Greek phainomai – to appear, come into view – it is the study of annual plant & animal cycles.
Here are a few examples:
When crocus bloom, prune roses.
When daffodils begin to bloom, sow peas.
When lilac leaves are the size of mouse’s ears, sow peas, lettuce and other cool weather crops.
When lilac is in full bloom, plant beans.
Once lilac flowers fade, plant squash and cucumbers.
Plant perennials when maple leaves begin to unfold.
When crabapple and wild plum are at bud break, tent caterpillars are hatching. Begin looking for and controlling them.
When the first dandelion blooms, plant potatoes.
When dandelions are blooming, plant lettuce, spinach, beets, and carrots.
When lily-of-the-valley blooms, plant tomatoes.
When dogwood reaches peak bloom, plant tomatoes and early corn.
When lily of the valley blooms, plant tomatoes.
When daylilies begin to bloom, plant tomatoes and peppers.
When irises bloom, transplant eggplant, melons and peppers.
When apple trees shed their petals, sow corn.
When oak leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear, sow corn.
When mock orange bloom, sow broccoli and cabbage for fall harvest.
You can find more interesting, age old methods for planting on the internet by searching the word “Phenology.” Many websites have historical lists and contemporary lists of indicator plants for the timing of planting vegetables and other plants in the landscape.
Sometimes in going back to old-fashioned traditions used by our grandparents, we find their ideas are better than the easy fixes we use today. This age-old technique certainly connects us more closely with the natural world and helps to improve our awareness of what is happening around us.