Nature’s scheduling

Did you know that dandelions can tell you when it’s time to plant potatoes?

There are lots of ways that you can determine when to plant certain crops from observing  the blossoming of trees and flowers. In the last few weeks, dandelions have been flowering, a little later than usual perhaps, and that’s the signal that the ground is warm enough to plant potatoes.

It’s called phenology, and these garden tips are part science, part rural lore. They are ways to truly get in tune with nature.

Here are some synchronisms that I’ve gathered from the Internet for the past month. When you see snowdrops, it’s time to plant peas and lettuce. When you see crocuses, it’s time to plant carrots, spinach and radish. When tulips open, plant beets, When maple blossoms open, plant chard. When lilacs develop their first leaves, plant beets, carrots, and lettuce.

Phenology can be helpful in combating insect pests, too. I’ve always had trouble growing zucchini because of the squash vine borer moth laying eggs on the stems of the plants. I’ve tried Vaseline and shiny CDs and aluminum foil to deter them, but nothing has worked. I’ve learned that when chicory flowers bloom, the vine borer moth emerges and lays her eggs, and so now I have a signal for when I should cover the plants for two weeks. The same principle applies to foxglove and the Mexican bean beetle.

When apple trees blossom, it’s time to plant bush beans, and when the petals fall, it’s time for pole beans, cucumbers and celeriac. When lilacs bloom, it’s time for beans, cukes and squash, and when lily of the valley blooms, it’s time to plant tomatoes. When bearded iris bloom, it’s time to plant peppers and eggplants.

Do you have any examples of this phenomenon? Has it been helpful, or is it an old wive’s/husband’s tale?


2 thoughts on “Nature’s scheduling

  1. This is great Nick- You and Betsy really model the low consumption lifestyle, AND the greater happiness, contentment, (and physical fitness)that go along with it! Always fun to come over and help you with your urban homestead. your fix it man Bick

  2. Pingback: A simple living index | Adventures in the good life

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