Where to Plant and When

Increase your success in the garden and enhance your own attunement to the natural flow of the seasons by gardening in synchrony with the powers that be; the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon. These bodies determine when and where and how to plant your garden. Plants follow the rhythm of the earth and sun, their life cycle attuned to precisely to the length of the day and the temperature of the soil and air. Like tides, plants also naturally respond to the pull of the moon, as they contain so much water.

Again, keen observation leads to greater gardening success. Throughout the year, spend time outside each day and every evening to notice when and where the sun rises an sets, the shifting of the shadows, the freezing patterns. In spring watch the trees and bushes observing their time of sprouting and bloom. Take the temperature of your soil frequently in the spring or whenever you plan to plant; each plant has a preferred soil temperature for ideal germination.

Learn your last and first average dates of frost, found in the newspaper, online, or by contacting your local plant nursery or extension office. With this information, you will know when to start seeds indoors, when to move transplants into the garden or start seeds outdoors, and where your plants can use extra help like a cold frame (a box with a glass or fiberglass lid that provides protection from frost, snow, and wind during the cooler months).

Notice which parts of your garden might be a separate microclimate, a spot that is different than the prevailing climate. Microclimates might include reflected heat from a stone wall, the shade of a tree, or a cool and wet gully. Soil temperatures and water levels will differ in these areas. Look for warmer spots and reflected light for plants like tomatoes and peppers, and seek dappled light or moister soil for plants that crave cool, like spinach and peas. You can even create your own microclimate by incorporating small ponds to reflect light, building mounds to create areas of shade and sun, or removing and planting shrubs and trees. For a detailed discussion of microclimates, refer to Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden.

Observing shade, sun, water, and microclimates throughout the year throughput the year will help your garden year-round by allowing you to match plant’s needs to available resources. A greenhouse or a cold frame can further extend your planting and harvesting beyond frost. A simple winter greenhouse can be constructed out of a sturdy frame and plastic sheeting. Place your cold frame or greenhouse in an area that gets lots of winter sunlight and be sure to monitor for overheating or drying out. Plant seeds in your frame in the fall for winter greens and at the end of winter for an early spring harvest.

Due to lack of summer pests and weeds, a cold frame takes very little tending and provides for a splendid winter salad. Just a few of the vegetables suited to a cold frame include root veggies, salad greens, asparagus, parsley, and onions. You can also use your cold frame to get a jump on the warm season by using it as a nursery for plants like tomatoes.

An even easier way to grow cool season crops is with a row cover, a clear plastic or cloth draped over short supports along a row or part of a row. Inverted U-shaped medium-gauge wire, tall enough to clear the crops, makes a simple and inexpensive support. Secure ends of the plastic cover with rocks or by burying an inch or two. During the heat of the day, vent by pulling the edge of your cover back. Row covers and cold frames can be purchased at many garden stores, and even online at www.seedsofchange.com. For more information on winter gardening and a full list of cool-season vegetables, see Eliot Coleman’s Four-Season Harvest.

An even deeper relationship with the land can be explored through your inner knowing. A sacred gardener takes time to listen directly to his or her plants, sensing their individual light, warmth, and gravitational needs. All gardens have their own personality as well as their own microclimates, so listening to the garden itself is key in determining when to plant, harvest, and perform other tasks. Get to know your land’s rhythms and quirks by listening with your whole self.

To feel the rhythm of your land, place your hands on the largest tree in the yard, one on either side of the trunk. Feel into the tree and notice what you feel in your hands. You may also see energy or hear it as a rhythm or tone. You may feel two pulses, the spiral going around the tree sunwise and the spiral going between the earth and the tree.

When you get a sense of these rhythms and any other information, move to another plant. Ask the plants and the garden when to plant, prune, and fertilize. After you have checked in with a scattering of plants, you will have a good idea of when and where it will be best to plant, and the special needs of each plant or area.

This article was adapted from Sacred Land by Clea Danaan

All Images were found on Google.com

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