MOTHER NATURE’S CUES are all around and ever unfolding. According to the 2022 Farmer’s Almanac effective phenology for gardening is ultimately a homegrown activity because it relies on local indicators to help gardeners determine when to plant various crops.

For the layman, phenology is the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena in relation to climate, plant and animal life.

Examples for using indicators or phenophases include planting when the spring peepers begin to peep or treating the lawn for crabgrass when the forsythia blooms.

Some plants are considered indicator plants, such as maples and lilacs because they provide a lot of information due to the fact that they grow in so many parts of the U.S.

The following are some of the lilac and maple indicators set forth in this year’s Farmer’s Almanac:

When lilac leaves are the size of a mouse’s ear, it is time to plant peas, lettuce and other cool-weather crops.

Around the time purple lilac blooms, grasshopper eggs hatch.

When lilac is in full bloom, plant beans.

Once lilac flowers have faded, the time has arrived to plant squash and cucumber.

When maple leaves begin to unfold, plant perennials.

When maple leaves reach full size, it is time to sow morning glories.

Climate changes have made phenology studies more valuable than ever before because phenology is so sensitive and reliant to changes in the climate.The U.S. National Phenology Network (NPN) is partnering with government agencies, nonprofits, educators, researchers and citizen scientists to monitor the changes in phenology affected by climate change.

“Changes in phenology are the fingerprints of climate change,” according to the NPN.

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