Let Nature tell you when to plant
With temperatures in the mid-teens, it really feels like spring this week. All the signs of early spring are here: the arrival of Downy Woodpeckers, Red-winged Blackbirds and American Robins. Even the Silver Maples, the harbingers of spring, are almost past their bloom. But just because it is spring doesn’t mean I going to charge out and plant any annuals or perennials.
Silver maples flowering!
Even in balmy Niagara region, the average date of the last spring frost is April 25. For most gardeners in the GTA and the Golden Horseshoe the average date of the last spring frost is April 30; and where I live, Brampton, it’s May 3. It’s only March 14! That’s ages away. There’s bound to be frost at some point.
So when would be the best time to plant annuals and perennials in my garden? Well, I can follow Nature’s signs, formalized by the age-old art of phenology, to figure out the best time to start planting.
For example, I can:
Plant cold-hardy peas when the forsythias and daffodils are blooming
Wait until the lilacs are in first leaf before I plant other cold hardy crops like beets, carrots, cole crops, lettuce and spinach
Plant cool season flowers (pansies, snapdragons) when poplar and chokecherry trees leaf out
Once the lilacs are in full bloom, I can plant beans, cucumbers and squash
Plant tomatoes when lily-of-the-valleys are in full bloom
Transplant eggplant, melon and peppers when irises bloom.
So, I am not rushing out into garden just yet. In the meantime, I will walk my dog in the sunshine and contemplate the gardening season, which is just around the corner.