Mid Atlantic Gardening forum: Signs of autumn: Phenology of the Mid-Atlantic

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Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
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LysmachiaMoon
Aug 11, 2014 6:12 AM CST
When I was a child, my dad (born in Poland) taught me to watch the "signs" of nature to know when to do stuff in the garden. First flies appear on the house screens: safe to plant early radishes. Maple tree leaves the size of a mouse ear: safe to plant out cabbages, etc.
In California, the swallows return to San Capistrano signals spring; here, in Southcentral PA our harbingers of spring are the turkey vultures *HA*. Yesterday, I saw the grackles and starlings in a stunningly huge flock, streaming across the sky: Sure sign of the end of summer.
Does anybody else have any of these signs (called Phenology) that they notice/use to "tell time" in the MidAtlantic garden?
The end is nothing, the journey is all.
Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Region: New Jersey Cactus and Succulents Tropicals
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JB
Aug 11, 2014 9:17 AM CST
I think any of us who came from certain parts of the country where we had people who really did watch these signs are more likely to take them as just a part of life. I know, coming from the Lancaster County Amish Country there are so many that we think are funny, but even the farmer's almanac goes along with some of them.

For example, the date on the calendar that it is on when we have the first snow that covers the grass, that is how many snows we will have that year.

Of course there is the one many cultures look at is the color of the wooley caterpillar in the fall to determine the severity of the winter.

When the barn swallows leave us sometime in August, we usually begin to prepare the barn and equipment for Fall and Winter. (that has alot to do with their droppings too. Rolling on the floor laughing )

Being a bird watcher I use the birds to tell me the weather as well as the time of year (their arrival and departure), as well as their eating habits to help me judge the weather. Some are already beginning to gather (flock) but not ready to leave yet.

I am not sure about the turkey buzzards, what do they show you. We have them all year round and I never noticed any difference with their habits...very interested in that.

Are these the type things you are talking about.???. This is a great thread topic. I love to hear what other people have to say.



Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Aug 11, 2014 5:25 PM CST

Moderator

Cool topic, Annie! The examples you give are such good ones, and a reminder to me of how dependent we've become on instruments (e.g., 'plant Caladium bulbs when the soil temperature is x degrees outside'), as opposed to observing and understanding nature's own signs.

When I lived in CT, the forsythia blooming in March was always the first sign that spring was about to begin.

In October and November, the signals of autumn were flocks of Canadian geese honking and migrating overhead in Vs, along with the fall foliage colors, which would begin turning about midSeptember and peak the 3rd week in October.

I guess I know seasonal signals, but have not yet learned nature's signals for different planting times. Sad

"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
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kylaluaz
Aug 12, 2014 5:30 AM CST
I did not know there was a name for this, and yes, what a fabulous topic!

Here's my favorite bit of phenological lore, from Siskiyou County in CA: although where you are may feel warm today, and although it may be late in May, you dare not plant out your tomatoes until all the snow is melted off of Black Butte.

Green Grin!

And it was so true! I was tempted many times, thinking, oh, surely that was the end of the too-cold weather, and then we'd have another wintery day.

I don't yet know any such for right here though, so I'll be watching closely, both outside and here in this topic.
Name: Speedie
Southern Maryland (Zone 7a)
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speediebean
Aug 13, 2014 4:45 AM CST
My Dad also taught me about the wooley caterpillars predicting the severity of the up-coming Winter; the heavier and darker their coat (not to mention, the EARLIER they don it), the more severe the Winter will be. Another one I remember is the ring around the moon, predicting a rainfall soon; if you see a ring around the moon one evening, then within 2 days it should rain. I've always found that one to be true. Interesting. nodding

Cat, we also use the forsythia blooms as a barometer for things here - when you see it FIRST start blooming, that's when it's time to put the corn gluten down on the lawn as a weed-preventer. Thumbs up
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In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~ Margaret Atwood
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
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kylaluaz
Aug 13, 2014 4:54 AM CST
Anyone know this weather rhyme? "Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning!"

We spent time on the NC coast frequently when I was a child and this one was in my family lore. Meaning, will it be fair or foul? Sea-going phenology.

Green Grin!
Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
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LysmachiaMoon
Aug 13, 2014 6:42 AM CST
I just read a really interesting piece on what life was like "before time"...before the average person had calenders and clocks. It said that in the 11th cent. and earlier most people would not have known their birthday or even in many cases how old they were. The would not know what year it was (they would keep track of that by the year of the reign of their king: "In the fifth year of King John") That's kind of jaw-dropping to realize; we are so wrapped up in counting and organizing time now. Maybe it would be nice to not know if I'm 57 or 37?

I bet that "nature signs" were essentially important then; you'd have to watch the sky and the world around you to know for sure when it was safe to plant crops or when certain fruits would be ripe, etc.
The end is nothing, the journey is all.
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
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kylaluaz
Aug 13, 2014 6:57 AM CST
Good point! And I think it's good for us to exercise our minds and imaginations by looking at things from those perspectives -- to the extent we can.

I remembered another nautical weather verse: "Mares tails and mackerel scales, all ships lower sails." Mares tails and mackerel scales refer to cloud formations that look like those things, and mean a storm is on the way. According to the lore.
Name: Speedie
Southern Maryland (Zone 7a)
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speediebean
Aug 13, 2014 7:15 AM CST
@Kayla, yes, I've heard the "Red sky at night, sailor's delight" rhyme before, and it's still followed today! Lots of nautical people around where I live, and I hear it all the time at work. Never heard of the "mares tails and mackerel scales" before though, will have to ask at work about that one. Neato! Thumbs up

@Lysmachia, it's really enlightening to think about stuff like that, huh? Once upon a time, mankind wasn't so reliant upon his watch or "smart" phone (a misnomer, in my opinion! Whistling ), or all that junk. He would wake up, look around outside, and know what to do based on what he observed around him. Now-a-days, people can't seem to "observe" anything farther than the gadget in their hands.. makes ya wonder how we call this "progress", huh? Confused

I love talking about this sort of stuff with my new Bossman; I ask him where he gets his weather info from, and he says "By looking around outside and paying attention to what's been going on, and what's happening NOW". Thumbs up Hurray! Smart Bossman!! nodding
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In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~ Margaret Atwood
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Aug 13, 2014 7:37 AM CST

Moderator

Great point Annie and so interesting to think about! I recall reading phrases like '17 summers ago' to indicate age--but you'd have to remember to keep track in some way that was permanent! :-D

Speedie I agree-- we have forgotten a lot about observing nature's signs.
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
[Last edited by Catmint20906 - Aug 13, 2014 3:47 PM (+)]
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Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
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LysmachiaMoon
Aug 14, 2014 7:29 AM CST
One of the saddest things I ever heard was from a 12 year old in my (rural) neighborhood when I asked him if he'd seen any deer. He said "There aren't any deer around here." His head is always down in his "smartphone" (I agree: Stupidphone would be a better name*LOL*) or he's inside playing vid games or if he's outside, he's roaring around on an ATV. HE NEVER saw the local herd of about 20 whitetails we have that move constantly all over the fields and woods here. he never saw the thousands of tracks alongside the road, the shed antlers that I regularly find in the woods. He thinks there are no deer here at all.

Garden lore: My grandmother always used to say you planted parsley on Ascension Thursday. I have no idea why that would be, considering it's a "movable feast", but there you go :)
Oh and Plant Peas on St. Patrick's Day! I usually do try to aim for somewhere around that time (mid-March);
For myself, I usually aim for St. Valentine's day to start my brassica, tomato and pepper seeds indoors.
The end is nothing, the journey is all.
Name: Terri
Lucketts, VA (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Hellebores Ferns Ponds
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aspenhill
Aug 14, 2014 10:59 AM CST
Annie, I've always heard about planting peas on St. Patrick's Day too. Tomatoes on Mother's Day.
Name: Andi
Pocono Mountains, PA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the first seed swap
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GardenQuilts
Aug 14, 2014 4:31 PM CST
I always planted peas outside on my grandmother's birthday, March 19, two days after St. Patricks Day. It works unless moles/voles/mice eat the peas. sometines I think that they mark their calendar for the start of the veggie sprout season.

I start pruning my roses when the forsythia bloom.

I heard a way to predict the severity of the oncoming winter. If the gypsy moth tents are close to the trunk of the tree, it will be a severe winter. If they are near the end of a branch, it will be a mild winter. It has been reasonably accurate the past few years.

I haven't heard of corn gluten as a weed preventative in spring. Do you buy corn gluten in the grocery store or a specialty store? I have lots of weeds and try to avoid chemical warfare.
Name: Speedie
Southern Maryland (Zone 7a)
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speediebean
Aug 14, 2014 4:32 PM CST
That's interesting, I'd never heard of planting peas on St. Patrick's Day. Maybe I should grow peas... Whistling
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In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~ Margaret Atwood
Name: Speedie
Southern Maryland (Zone 7a)
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speediebean
Aug 14, 2014 4:37 PM CST
Corn Gluten is sold at most garden centers/nurseries, and I'm pretty sure it's also sold at Lowe's and Home Depot. The most popular one that I know of is called "Concern"; that's what we sell at work. ... OK, I just checked online; HD carries "Concern", Lowe's doesn't seem to carry any corn gluten meal products at all.
Many people really swear by it.. but not everyone. Here's an interesting article about it, pros and cons:
http://www.safelawns.org/blog/2010/04/corn-gluten-meal-as-we...
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In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~ Margaret Atwood
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Aug 14, 2014 6:02 PM CST

Moderator

Andi, I had never heard of the peas or the gypsy moth one! Cool!

Thanks for the link, Speedie. I wasn't aware people were using corn gluten as a weed preventive.
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Speedie
Southern Maryland (Zone 7a)
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speediebean
Aug 15, 2014 5:51 PM CST
Oh yeah, it's BIG around my area down here. We sell out of that stuff left and right every early Spring.

Been seeing and hearing loads of geese heading South the past week or so... I guess that counts as a "sign", no? Whistling
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In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~ Margaret Atwood
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Aug 15, 2014 6:00 PM CST

Moderator

We don't see many migrating flocks here--not the way we did in CT. Maybe it has to do with distance from the coastline?
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Speedie
Southern Maryland (Zone 7a)
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speediebean
Aug 15, 2014 6:20 PM CST
Hmmmm, maybe. We have miles and miles and miles of coastline around us here. Where I live we're right on the intersection of 3 major water sheds.
**********************
In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~ Margaret Atwood
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Aug 15, 2014 6:32 PM CST

Moderator

is it Canadian geese migrating in their V-formation? Miss seeing those from past years in CT.
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso

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