The Walden Effect: Homesteading Year 5. Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Homestead Blog

Innovations:

Homesteading Tags

Recent Comments



Blog Archive

User Pages

Login

About Us

Submission guidelines

Store


Spring indicator plants

Dandelion

My mom sent me an email that tickled my fancy a week or two ago:

I may get that thermometer today, mostly because I want to compare soil temperature 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.


A host of golden daffodilsShe 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 conditons". 

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.)


Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.


I haven't been gardening long enough to have taken notice of indicator plants but I love the concept and I'm going to start paying attention. Your mom is very poetic. Thanks for providing a new way to see a dandelion, both in word and picture.
Comment by Lisa Sat Mar 10 20:17:18 2012
Lisa --- I thought Mom's words were too poetic not to share too. I love the way dandelions are so much more than a ubiquitous weed.
Comment by anna Sun Mar 11 13:52:32 2012