Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Phenology: "On the 1st New Moon of March, look at Subasio. If it's green, then plant your seeds. If it's white, we wait."

Phenology: planting by nature's signs

The idea of watching for nature’s seasonal signs is called phenology. For gardeners and farmers, this involves studying natural phenomena to know when to plant crops in the spring.

Trees, shrubs, and flowers are sensitive to temperature and day length, and develop on a regular schedule based on local conditions. Other natural phenomena, such as bird migrations and the emergence of insects and amphibians (like spring peepers), also signify the coming of spring. It only makes sense to use these events as indicators of when the weather is right for planting.

I'm just starting to learn about this. Annamaria gave me a local Umbrian gardener's calendar, and it gives all kinds of fascinating details about the times of planting and harvesting. It says that one doesn't plant seeds straight into the beds until the "crescente" the first days of the New Moon of March, which was the 18th. But then one also has to watch the weather. She came by this morning and said, "Oh no. We can't plant now. Look at Monte Subasio. If there's snow on top at the crescente, we have to wait."

But even with cold, wet weather, I've been having a fine time. Building beds, putting up trellises. This one is where a lot of old junk - sticks and bits of stuff - were stashed. But under it all the soil was quite good, and it gets full exposure all day. So all my tallest things will go in here. Sunflowers, hollyhocks, glads and delphiniums (if I can get them started.)

Annamaria has pruned all her fruit and olive trees and gave me all the cuttings, so I've got piles of sticks to play with.

 In the foreground is the bed I put around the grape vines. Have to build a trellis for them. All around them are about four bulbs' worth of garlic that are doing well. To the right you can see the rockery I built out of tufa blocks. The project for this afternoon is to dig out a trench along its length behind so I can put in another bunch of trellising and make a big wall of morning glories. The tufa forms a little shelf and all those pots are Annamaria's that she's not using. So, flowers, flowers flowers.

I've pulled (and chopped and peeled and stashed away in teh freezer) nearly all my winter brassicas. Plenty of work left to do before the summer veg goes in. Two rows of onions, and three short rows of more garlic. I've got 48 red onion starts waiting to go in.

How to build a trellis out of pruned fruit cuttings.

So. Many. Sticks!

Teaching myself wattling technique. This is my poor rhubarb that I bought last spring and ended up getting moved three times. It's doing much better now, but I wanted to put something around it so no one would tread on the delicate young leaves. All the material here is olive.

Following the manuscripts, I wanted to try a raised wattle bed. This worked surprisingly well, and only took a few hours to complete. It's mostly fruit tree prunings. I'm going to put beets and marigolds together.

Wattle, wattle everywhere...

A week ago, it looked like spring!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So glad Pippy is ok, Hilary.