John Peter Thompson: Why Groundhog’s Day Kicks Off A New Garden Season

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The celebration Americans call Groundhog Day began in the late 18th or early 19th century in the area of Pennsylvania referred to by some as Amish Country. Bearing similarities to Christian and Pagan holidays harkens to our agricultural need to forecast the weather. Weather prediction is a cornerstone of gardening and farming. Gardeners and farmers alike use almanacs, rings around moons, colors of sunsets and sunrises, as well as wind direction and of course experience to predict short and long term temperature and precipitation. Most importantly both use the sequence of plant growth to help them know when to plant see, when to watch for insects and disease, when to cultivate for weeds and when to prepare for harvest. 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. The blooming of the forsythia for example is an indicator that pest plants called weeds will soon be germinating. So much to talk about as spring really is right around the corner and the gardener’s time to plant is soon upon us or in the words of the old English round: ‘Sumer is icumen in, Lhude sing cuccu! Groweþ sed and bloweþ med’. In addition to snow, and ice, planting and seeding, there are indoor garden chores which need attention to for now is the time that the garden awakes and gardeners cannot sleep. In this segment of The Organic View Radio Show, host, June Stoyer will speak to Invasive species and Horticultural expert, John Peter Thompson, who is President of the National Agricultural Research Alliance (http://www.NARA-B.org ). John Peter will discuss some of the interesting tools farmers have used as well as things you can do to prepare for this coming gardening season. Stay tuned!

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