We watched the groundhog in February and he was right. This winter was very cold and late, but now it’s almost time to plant the peas. But exactly when? In old Ireland, when one could sit naked on the bare ground, it was time to plant the peas. However, you might prefer Mother Nature’s Calendar.
Indicator Plants, by sprouting at a certain time (which is triggered by heat) also tell us which other plants or insects will come out at the same time. My favorite was "When the oak leaves are the size of a mouse’s ear, it’s time to plant the corn".
1. First to leaf out are the red maples, willows and aspens. Early daffodils begin when the squirrels eat the crocus. Then Japanese andromeda and flowering cherries bloom, and the tent caterpillars hatch.
3. When the forsythia, PJM rhododendrons and violets open, crabgrass seed begins to germinate. Then, when dogwood and bridal wreath flower, poison ivy leafs out. Also hemlock wooly adelgid hatches, although the unusual cold may have killed off a lot of them.
It wouldn’t be a garden if we didn’t grow some vegetables or herbs or fruit. Food gardening has exploded in popularity recently, as it did during the war in the 1940’s. Today almost 42 million families grow some edibles. It can be a bed in the ground, or a big, deep window box, or a big pot.
I like to start seeds inside or buy seedlings for an earlier harvest. but with our up and down weather temperatures, be sure to harden them off carefully for several weeks before putting outdoors. However, spring may just heat up fast this year, so you may even try a few peas now if your soil is warm enough. But you can’t rush Mother Nature.
Ruth S. Foster is a landscape consultant and arborist. See her web site www.mothersgarden.net.