Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Growing Degree Days and your garden

Temperatures this week will remain consistently warm in the Cleveland area. The weather forecast from the National Weather Service and a consulting meteorology service we subscribe to points to a seasonably warm March. Not that we can't get a "surprise" March snowstorm, the closer we get to April the less likely it is.

What does warm weather mean for your lawn and garden? As the temperatures warm plants will begin to come to life in your yard and garden. There is a programmed sequence that repeats itself each year. Obviously plants can't use a calendar to know when they should bloom, instead they follow their que in the sequence of flowering trees and shrubs based on Growing Degree Days (GDD). Plant phenology follows a predictable pattern each spring season, although the start of the spring season may be earlier or later based on the temperatures. This March is forecast to be more on the mild side as was last year, while March 2008 we had cold temperatures and over 30" of snow delaying spring.

At The Ohio State University OARDC Growing Degree Days and Plant Phenology website you can input your zip code to see what the current GDD reading is and compare to a chart of expected plant and insect activity.

While the ground is still too wet to do much work in the garden, now is the time to begin fertilizing and preparing for work in the yard.


david said...

Thank you for sharing the degree days page with us. (and a little bit of science) It's good to be working with someone with your experience and expertise.

Doug Freer said...

Funny that we're talking about Growing Degree Days. As I have been driving and looking at the beautiful spring trees in flower I had a brief flash back to April 2005. On the tail end of the snowiest winter on record for Cleveland we had two April snow falls that were significant. The snow cover in March and April snows delayed the start of spring. The third weekend in April the eastside of Cleveland had snow fall ranging from 1.0" in Cleveland Heights to about 18.0" of in Beachwood, Woodmere, Pepper Pike and Solon. Callery Pear and related trees were in full bloom and the heavy snow load decimated private and street tree plantings throughout eastside communities. The spring bloom in 2005 was about two and half weeks later than what we're experiencing now - and it all has to do with Growing Degree Days.