Paying Attention to Phenology


Unsplash/phillippe collard

Gardening and farming are a whole lot more complicated than just putting seed in the ground, tending it and reaping a harvest. Knowing when and what to plant, when and how to fertilize, how to control weeds and insects, how to manage too little or too much rainfall, temperature changes and so much more plays into it. And just when you have it figured out one year, it changes the next.

Yep, we need all the help we can get. We read farm reports, we listen to the experts, we learn from generations before us. In spite of all this, one of the best sources we can listen to is nature herself. Even though it seems at times that she has no rhyme or reason, Mother Nature always has a perfect plan and she reveals it to us through phenology.

A new word to my vocabulary, phenology is the study of cyclical natural phenomena and events, also known as the science of appearances. Plants, animals and insects don’t use a clock, but instead they use the condition of the environment to keep time.

It is basically taking note of when certain events happen from year to year. Natural events may not occur at the same time each year but they occur in the same order. For example, many die-hard mushroom hunters know that when redbuds and lilacs bloom, it’s time to look for mushrooms. These events occur together each year even though they don’t occur on the same dates each year.

Unsplash/dave dollar

4/21/2020 8:03:14 PM

Lois, the science behind growing plants can be complicated but following nature's lead is the best way. I just discovered the GDD a few days ago but still haven't figured out how to use it. I know it has something to d with the timing of plants and insects but haven't found a good explanation of how it's used to better grow a garden. Do you have any good suggestions on educating myself in this area? Nebraska Dave Urban Ranch

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