I was standing in line at a grocery store the other day and in the midst of the clutter of tabloids and diet magazines stood a lone publication called, “Hobby Farm Home – True Country Living“. On the cover was a fantastic shot of pesto crostini. It was so lonely looking, the magazine. Slightly askew and completely out of its element. I grabbed it, just to be polite.
Later that night, when I was reading before bed, I got a chance to be alone with my new magazine. I knew it was going to be good when I was not even through 5 pages and already there were too many articles and tidbits to count that I would have to come back and re-examine. I love it when that happens.
But the most interesting part of this issue was learning about a field of study called phenology. Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and inter annual variations in climate. In other words plants and animals react to the seasonal weather by instinct, not by watching a calendar. We humans have lost this skill over time.
We have not all lost interest in this subject. Over the pond at the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens in London, their phenological work spans 200 years. It is now a well documented fact from the work at KRBG, that the growing season over the last 50 to 60 years is a full 2 weeks longer.
That may not seem like a big deal, but to our farming ancestors it would have been critical to know when to plant and how long to leave the crop on the field, to yield the best harvest.
Today, it is possible, all over the world for ordinary people to become “citizen scientists” and help record what is happening to our natural environment.
My thoughts went immediately to my Daughter and Father-In-Law who are very interested in things like this already. A great way to teach a child stewardship and the joy of volunteering.
In Canada – Plant Watch for more information and to check in with the activities in your province.
In the USA – National Phenology Network
In the UK – Nature’s Calendar