Gardening is full of folklore.  Experiences pass down through generations, or from neighbor to neighbor.

I suppose some of the folklore is good, some is wrong, and some is neutral.  It depends on how it developed.  For example, to know what does well in Vermont, it's probably better to talk to someone who has lived in Vermont, than someone who lives in Florida.

One example is phenology:  the study of what happens when, in nature, to guide what to do when, in the farm or garden.  For example:

Plant peas When forsythia & daffodils blooms
Plant potatoes When 1st dandelion blooms
When the shadbush flowers
Plant beets, carrots, cole crops, lettuce and spinach When lilac is in first leaf
Plant beans, cucs and squash When lilac is in full bloom
Plant tomatoes When lily-of-the-valley are in full bloom
Transplant eggplant, melon and peppers When irises bloom
Plant corn When apple blossoms start to fall
Seed fall cabbage and broccoli When catalpas and mockoranges bloom
Seed morning glories When maple leaves reach full size
Plant cool season flowers (pansies, snapdragons...) When aspen and chokecherry trees leaf out

These "rules" may not apply in every climate, and they may change with climate change, and may be different in different regions.  Coincidentally, I did plant peas and potatoes about when the forsythias were (still are) blooming although I didn't think about that.  Dandelions have started blooming.  Maybe I should replant the peas that didn't germinate.

 The opening of rhubarb leaves is always the first sign of a new pre-spring season, for me.  They are too early to plant garden seeds or potatoes.

There is more in this blog, Cold Climate Gardening, along with criticism of phenology.  There are various phenology gardens around, where people track what happens, when.

Being new to this neighborhood, but not to the general area, I was curious about what neighbors had to say about gardening.  To be honest, most don't garden much.  For some kitchen gardens and ornamentals, the issues are deer and rodents.  I'm learning to deal with those, mainly from accumulated experience on the internet and in books.  For example, plum trees are deer candy (confirmed in my yard).  So i built cages for the plum trees.  Gophers love eating fig roots.  So the fig trees are not planted by first digging a large hole, lining with chicken wire, then filling back in for the tree.  

Unfortunately, few people seem to have been in my area for the long term, so I have to accumulate my own experiences.  Maybe I can pass them on some time to newcomers.

I started a garden blog in 2006 largely to have a diary of what happened, when.  That way I don't need to depend on memory.  I often look back to see how things happened in previous years.

At this time in my yard-

Lilac flower clusters are in their earliest stage.

Irises are growing fast.

Fig trees are putting out the first fig buds of the year (brebas)

Plums are almost done blooming.  Asian and European.

Pears are in full bloom.

Peaches are almost done blooming.

Anemones are blooming.

Daffodils have been blooming for some time.

Forsythia is almost done.

Pawpaw lead buds have barely started to enlarge.

Cherries are blooming.  Sweet cherries.  Tart cherries, almost.

Apples, barely started.  In first pink.

So that's some of that.  Much of accumulated wisdom is not science.  We have to take what sounds right, and be skeptical about the rest.  Which is true for science as well.  They both have a place in the garden and farm.

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Replies to This Discussion


I wonder if the phenology folklore dates back to a time when not everyone had calendars, and people still took many cues from nature?  Going by what plants were budding or blooming might actually indicate soil temperature, warming days, etc.  Because people didn't communicate a great deal with people in other regions, perhaps these little tidbits had more relevance then.

One example of this outside of gardening is spring cleaning.  People used to clean in spring because it was the first time they were able to take insect-filled bedding out to air and clean after a long winter.  In this day and age, we can really do a thorough cleaning any time of the year we like.  And yet, I really enjoy spring cleaning.  I feel I am getting my house and yard ready for some relaxing afternoons ahead of me. I grew up in the midwest and the one thing I miss the most is the scent of lilacs blooming.

But for a lot of these things you don't need a calender, you don't even have to think about it. I always get an attack of spring cleaning when the days lengthen and the light grows stonger...

Excellent comment and reference site. Especially with unsettled weather, following nature seems to be the best bet for getting the most results for the least effort. I especially like the way you listed developmental stages for each plant. That gives a nice baseline to start. My garden is well behind yours ... as usual. Our 2,376 feet elevation and 393 miles from the ocean make a difference.




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