Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Why would a garden blog delve into the science of interpreting the bumps on your head? Well, I'm not. That's PhRenology. I'm talkin' Phenology which is something we all know little bits and pieces of and have heard since we were kids from grandparents and such. It stems from Greek for "science of appearances' and is the study of cyclic events of nature. Some of these I've heard and some are new, but all are good old-fashioned indicators of what to plant when.
  • Plant beets and carrots when dandelions are blooming
  • Plant potatoes when the shadbush (Amelanchier arborea) bloom. Which is a phenologism itself since shadbush is named so because it blooms in time with the Shad runs. Are there any shad running anywhere anymore?
  • Plant lettuce, spinach, and peas when the lilacs show their first true leaves or when the daffodils bloom
  • Plant beans when lilacs are in full bloom
  • Plant cucumbers and squash when the lilacs fade
  • Grasshopper eggs hatch when the lilac blooms
  • Plant tomatoes, peppers, and early corn when the dogwoods are full blown or when daylilies start to bloom
  • Plant corn when elm leaves are the size of a squirrel's ear or when oak leaves are the size of a mouse's.
  • Plant perennials when maple leaves begin to unfurl
  • Prune roses when the forsythia blooms
  • Plant pansies, snapdragons, and other hardy annuals after the aspens and chokecherry trees are leafed out. This indicates no more hard frosts.
  • Or, when you see new growth on green ash, grapes, and bur oaks, it's safe to plant annuals
  • Or, when peaches and plums are in full bloom
  • Plant morning glory seeds when maples are fully leafed out
  • When Morning Glories start to climb, Japanese Beetles arrive
  • When Foxgloves open, Mexican bean beetles appear
  • Plant aboveground crop vegetables on a waxing moon (from new to full)
  • Plant underground crop vegetables and flowering bulbs on a waning moon (from full to new)
  • Cut down trees on a waning moon
  • When wasps build their nests in exposed areas, it will be a dry year
  • When the locusts bloom in May, it will turn cold and rainy (this happens every year, I swear)
  • When the sun goes to bed red, 'twill rain tomorrow tis said...same as red sky at night, sailor's delight, red sky at dawn, sailors take warn
  • And of course, fond to me, since I'm surrounded by corn "Knee high by the Fourth of July"

Any that you know that don't appear here? I'd like to hear some from other regions, becasue these are so very 'MidAtlantic'.


Blogger Rurality said...

I love these, especially the ones about squirrel & mouse ears!

My grandmother (in north GA) always just said to plant your garden on Good Friday.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Riverrim blog posted about this recently, and included a link to software that helps you keep track of your observations. (

1:21 PM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

Cool, thanks for the link. It would be fun to keep track and see how 'true' they are from year to year.

1:24 PM  

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