"nature's own planting guide" - poison free organic gardening Victoria BC
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Nature's Own Planting Guide

Mother Nature's own clock
By far the best indicator of when it is safe to to start seeding or planting flowers or vegetables outdoors is Mother Nature herself - particularly these days in our ever more capricious climates. And if you chose Mother Nature's markers as close to home as possible, you will have an excellent indicator of the micro-climate of your area.

Take your guidelines for planting outdoors from flowering trees, shrubs, bulbs and early perennials as close to home as possible, and ideally, in and around your own gardens. Within the overall climate of your area are many local 'micro climates' - including your own gardens. Depending upon exposure to the sun, sheltering trees, hedges or buildings, the micro-climate of your garden can vary as much as a week and more from other, nearby gardens.

And it is well worthwhile to go to the little trouble of jotting down the date you made your first sowings or plantings of the year in a gardening diary - and how they fared - along with the flowering tree, shrub, perennials or bulbs used as a 'timer'. Over a few years, you can easily refine this system until the timing is perfect for your gardens - and is completely failure proof.

Here are some general guidelines. You can plant peas and other hardy crops (broccoli seedlings, Brussels sprouts, cabbage seedlings, celeriac, celery, Chinese cabbage, collards, garlic, kale, mustard, onions, peas, radishes, spinach, strawberries, turnips) as soon as the ground can be worked - usually between 20 and 40 days before last frost, and definitely when the first colour appears in tulips and other spring flowering bulbs. Early flowering shrubs like forsythia, witch hazel, pussy willows and azaleas are some other very useful indicators.

Follow with semi-hardy crops (beets, carrots, cauliflower, endive, lettuce, parsley, parsnips, potatoes, salsify, Swiss chard) about a week to 10 days later, and from 10 to 30 days before the last killing frost. Again, pick a another type of flowering tree, shrub or spring bulb in or near your gardens as your timing guide - when the leaves appear on forsythia, for instance.

Tender (bush and pole beans, sweet corn, cucumbers, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, summer squash) crops can be seeded or planted when the first leaves appear on deciduous trees. And again, pick a tree, shrub or bulb in or near your gardens as your chief timing guide.

Wait with warm season crops (tomatoes, peppers, lima and soy beans, eggplant, gourds, pumpkin, winter squash, muskmelon) until the ground has warmed up, and blossoms appear on apple and cherry trees, or on quince and strawberries.

The same principles as given here apply to hardy, semi-hardy, tender and warm weather flowers.

Mother Nature always knows best, and by choosing an appropriate 'guide' tree, shrub or species of bulbs (first blossoms, first leaves, blossom drop) - ideally from among those in or around your own gardens - the timing for your own gardens will be as close to perfect as possible.


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