I was reading a garden blog the other day and it talked about phenology. Phenology is the study of how the biological world times natural events in our environment such as the first leaves unfolding to the arrival of birds in spring. As our climate changes, I tend to watch for signs in the garden like most gardeners do. This year I am more in tune. There are three factors to look for; sunlight, temperature and precipitation. Birds arrive in spring when the sun and warmer temperatures arrive. Plants grow with an increase in temperature and light. Let’s take a look at whats happening here in January.
Look at this plant growing in the crack of the floor in my greenhouse. It was growing well last fall and died back during winter. You can see evidence of blackened leaves from last year. Yesterday I noticed it had bright green leaves emerging. I have minimal heat on in the greenhouse and its been set the same all winter. I have to wonder if it’s a sign that things are a lot warmer outside than most January’s. Hubby remarked yesterday that this plant may be a seed I dropped. It’s a tough one to pull out so it’s probably a weed.
I am experimenting this year since the forecast says it’s not going to freeze for the rest of the month. I decided to go ahead and plant some perennial flower and herb seeds. The greenhouse is staying between 10-15C so its pretty nice in there. All I use is a tiny heater to keep things from freezing. We are not getting a lot of sun so I am turning on the grow light above the tray. What I would give to see some sun now. We have had fog for days as we live below sea level. The seeds I planted take about eight weeks to grow to potting up size.
As I walked the garden, there were more signs of spring happening. The Narcissus are up on the north side of the garden shed. You would think the north side of the shed would be a cold pocket. This is not the only place the bulbs are coming up. Tulips have been sprouting up everywhere. It’s a good thing they are seldom hurt by a late frost here.
I enjoyed seeing the fuzzy green-gray leaves of lamb’s ear or Stachys in the garden. It makes me want to start cleaning leaves off the bed but it’s too wet yet.
As I walked to survey the plants we will be selling for Ladner Seedy Saturday I noticed the strawberries are greening up. Lots of garden cleanup lays ahead.
The Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ looks splendid with its russet coloured seed heads left on. Yet if you look closely, this plant is already crowning or showing signs of growth at the base. I use this as a sign to cut back the old stems. Its much easer done before the new growth begins.
Will you have a look at this? The rhubarb is nudging its way up. I dug this rhubarb up out of the ground last year and was going to get rid of it. It just didn’t perform well where it was. It sat out of the soil for a week and started to grow like crazy. It was planted into the largest container we had. Well, it loves being in a container although books will tell you that its one plant that doesn’t like to be contained.
So am I wrong about the signs encouraging me to plant seeds now? We will soon find out. I will not be starting my vegetable seeds until March but I might have to try some sweet pea seeds. Okay, I did pop two pea seeds in my raised vegetable bed. It’s just a test. I love testing mother nature. Going forward I will be watching for signs in nature. We often plant at the same time each year. Had we know that our October last year would be so warm we could have planted another crop. I had no sooner cut back some plants last October and a week later they were growing again. Mother Nature was not ready for her plants to go dormant. Have you experienced this in your garden?