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Many people think of a calendar as a series of pages covered with small boxes. True, a calendar is a way of organizing time to make sure one gets to the dentist on the right day. There are many kinds of calendars – civil (starts Jan. 1), fiscal (depends on the decision of the organization), lunar (changes in the size of the moon), and many different religious calendars. To add to the confusion, some religious calendars do not even start on the same civil calendar date each year.
The gardening calendar unfolds differently every season. It is unique each year. In general, the order of events is maintained every year: Tulips bloom before asters. However, unlike Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving, which are attached to specific dates, the dates plants bloom or produce eatables are connected to the weather in each growing season.
Therefore, working in the garden is like viewing a parade. The order stays the same. The timing of the parade can vary greatly depending if the watch of the organizer is fast or if the elephants doddle getting ready. More information on nature’s garden and how to use it is available at “Garden Calendar, National Phenology Network” at www.usanpn.org/about/phenology.
For those interested in gardening but who do not want to start too early, indicator plants suggest when the time is right. In Evanston, the time to start uncovering perennials in the garden is when the species crocus blooms. Apply crabgrass preventer when the forsythia starts to bloom. Over the years, people have noted which plants provide useful garden information. A useful article is “The Importance of Indicator Plants and How to Use Them” (which can be found at www.mortonarb.org).
Up to a certain point the higher the temperature, the faster the rate of development. The most common temperature in our area at which dormancy is broken in plants and at which many insects become active is 50ºF.
But a number of plants and insects become active at higher or lower temperatures. Tomatoes prefer a 55ºF night to start growing and their blossoms drop off when night temperatures are below 55ºF or over 75ºF.
The Morton Arboretum produces useful reports each week on their website, www.mortonarb.org.
With all this hot weather it is best to go with the flow. Garden according to plants’ natural preferences. Do everything their way and have more pleasure and less frustration. To increase the blooming period of flowers, remove spent blooms and pick produce regularly to extend the harvest.
Finally, take a break in the shade and have a glass of cold lemonade.