As a famous whitetail deer once lamented: “Winter sure is long.” And here in zone 6a, I would concur. The last week of April through the last week of October are the only guaranteed growing times for anything not frost-resistant, and even that’s a gamble. The remaining half of the year is reserved for watching it rain. It certainly gives the mind some time to contemplate self-harm.
But then I discovered something: Phenology.
In an applied context to gardening, it correlates planting times to what local native plants are doing. For example, when the crocus blooms, it’s time to plant radishes.
The benefit being, some vegetables can, in theory, be planted ahead of last frost, thereby extending the gardening season. The practice is entirely anecdotal, as micro-climates are too variable to establish a regional constant. The information available is therefore crowdsourced, making for nice little community of gardening nerds.
It also made for a fun experiment. And with a basic internet search providing corollaries to what I planned to grow, I was able to create my own planting guide. The dates themselves I left blank, as I would fill them in myself, noting whether the incidence was successful or not. And so, after one year, I have my own vegetable garden planting time reference index, specific to my immediate geography:
I intend to add more items, but for now the greatest revelation was that I could squeeze out a few more weeks’ growing time for peas and root vegetables. And with the carrots maturing earlier as a result, I was able to plant a winter crop far enough in advance of the hard freeze to yield some impressive roots.
So while Suicide Month will remain unchanged, I can at least take comfort in the knowledge that it’s the last month of the season that I can’t plant anything.