Saturday, April 26, 2008


It took a while to find the term. All That I could think of was "when (something) leaves are the size of mouse ears"... then who knows what.

Finally I did this search google search that resulted in some answers. It's when OAK leaves are the size of mouse ears. That's when to hunt for morels, when to plant soybeans, when to fish for crappies, and when the orioles come back. Also, apparently, the dandelions, lilacs and blue violets bloom at the same time, signalling when to hunt for morels.

This got me to the term Phenology, which I discovered I already had an entry on in my blog. Arrrgghhh!

Wikipedia has an article about phenology, and so does About-dot-com. I especially like the wikipedia article bacause it give the Greek spelling: φαινομαι.

Unfortunately, in the entry on morels, I would have a dilemma. My lilacs are not blooming yet. The 'local' blue violets (ones that 'went native' in my yard so were here before I was) started a month ago, although the "Quincy" violets that came from Illinois just started. The dandelions have been blooming for a couple of weeks. Worst of all, I haven's checked on oak leaves, since I don't live near any. But the ginkgo leaves are about the size of, say, a squirrrel's ear.

This site has some information that looks useful. We'll see if I can put it to work. Some examples:

"When peach and plum trees are in full bloom plant hardy crops." Too late for me this year. And that $^#@*& freak frost showed that even the peach and plum dont know what they are talking about, sometimes.

"When you see new growth on green ash, grapes and bur oaks it is safe to plant tender vines, annuals and perennials." That would be now. The grapes are growing. But it's a bit cool at night (in the 40s)

"Plant peppers and eggplant outside when bearded iris is in bloom." The bearded iris are just beginning to swell. I'll need to wait.

"When the daffodils begin to bloom it is time to plant peas. " Too late. I didn't plant peas, and the daffodils are almost done.

"If apple trees bloom in April the crop will be plentiful- if they bloom in May the crop will be poor. " It's April, they are blooming. Stay tuned!

"Plant corn when oak leaves are the size of a squirrels' ear. " I need to find a squirrel to check on this. And I'll need to find an oak tree. Fortunately, there's another way... see the next entry!

"When the blossoms of the apple tree begin to fall, plant your corn seeds. " I'll do that and record what happens.

"Tomatoes can be set out when lily-of-the-valley is in full bloom." They are not quite blooming yet. Maybe this will be the key. Soil temperature is key, and lily-of-the-valley are so short that they must be a good measure of soil temperature, right?

"When the flowering dogwood is in peak bloom it is time to plant tomatoes, early corn and peppers. " That time is "almost here". The dogwood is in early bloom. We'll see if this matches with the lily of the valley thing, above. The tomato seedlings are at growing rapidly, and some are at their second set of leaves.

"When dandelions are blooming plant beets, lettuce, spinach and carrots." That would be now. Maybe I should get some seeds.

Lest anyone think I'm naive, I do realize that trees can't predict the weather (witness the unfortunate aprium, apricots, and peaches). And if they COULD, we've so distorted them with breeding, grafting, moving them from their providence, and cultural practices, that they would not help but be confused. Plus, with climate change and local microclimates, there's even more to consider. Still, sometimes, it's just nice to have someone tell me what to do. That way I dont have to think, and if it's wrong, it's not my fault for bad planning! And if I stick to MY experience, in MY microclimate, and with MY varieties, maybe it will still make sense.

SO.... I have planted Romano beans when the daffodils were done, and the fig brebas are the size of mouse poop, and the apples and tulips and pink cherry and scilla are blooming. The grapes have started to grow, Venus faster than the others.
We'll see if the beans grow and produce! I did sort of base this on the sprouting volunteer bean - the soil wasnt too cold for that one, anyway!

I also divided and replanted some Egyptian Walking Onions - it's probably too late for that, but they were in the way of the beans.

After this entry, I looked at the thermometer on the grape arbor. It reads 72.5 degrees. I went ahead and planted a few "scallop bush mix" patty pan squash, and some "white sensation" hybrid sweet corn. Not having had success with corn before, this will be interesting. I intend to plant more in 2 weeks. This is a short season variety.

It's hard to think of something that JUST STARTED - it looks like the Japanese Wisteria has flower buds the about 1/2 inch long, the size of, say, grapes.

Erythronium has been in bloom for one week. OH - A white tree peony (south side of house) just started blooming yesterday. Maybe that's the key!

1 comment:

  1. Hey! Thanks for the great gardening tips. I'm going to put them into use once it gets nice out!

    I was browsing through a bunch of green websites and blogs and I came across yours and found it very interesting. There are a bunch of others I like too, like the daily green, ecorazzi and I especially like’s carbon calculator ( I find it really easy to use (it doesn’t make me feel guilty after I take it).

    Are there any others you would recommend? Can you drop me a link to your favorites (let me know if they are the same as mine).