Spring indicator plants
My mom sent me an email
that tickled my fancy a week or two ago:
get that thermometer today, mostly because I want to compare soil
with the growth of my "indicator" dandelions. I
actually welcome back dandelions as if they are relatives
returning! I have a special one just under the rock I step on to
go down into the backyard. It always comes back--I want it there,
to light way down in dusky times. I cherish the dandelions as my first
fresh Spring greens
--before asparagus, and wilder--bitterer--than
wintered over kale and other greens like Swiss Chard.
got interested in the idea of dandelions as an indicator of the
progression of spring, and stumbled across a Rodale pamphlet with a
chapter on "Using phenology to make planting decisions". The text
suggested paying attention to honeysuckle and lilacs "because of their
wide adaptability to different geographical areas, and their
reliability in making consistent responses to varying weather
By noticing when the
indicator plants' leaves and flowers emerge, you can get an idea about
when to plant certain crops. For example, the Rodale pamphlet
recommended planting cool season crops (like peas) when lilac shows its
first leaves and waiting to plant warm season crops (like tomatoes)
until the lilacs are in bloom. Of course, oak
leaves are another classic indicator plant.
I loved Mom's idea of
testing indicator plants against soil temperature. What's your
most dependable indicator plant? Have you noticed whether it
responds to day length, air temperature, or soil temperature?
Our chicken waterer keeps chicks healthy from
day 1 with clean water (and a fun toy.)
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