The Gardening Schedule – Annual Cycle
Working with the Yearly Gardening Cycle
There’s an old saying inthat there’s a right time for everything and it was usually last week. It certainly can feel like it at times as most gardening jobs come in rushes and everything needs to be done at the same time. Less panic comes with practice and the familiarity of the annual cycle.
Certain tasks are not only best done at the right time of the year, but they can also be much easier or more effective then. We do most heavy pruning during the dormant period of winter, when the plant is least shocked by it, but we prune in summer to control growth or promote flowers or fruit. The timing of sowing is, of course, often critical. Many need to be sown a year before they are wanted almost to the week, and biennial flowers, such as foxgloves, must be sown two years before they flower. Japanese must be sown as soon as the days shorten to less than fourteen hours. In my garden, which is in the South of England, this means I have to sow during the third week in August — then and only then — if I am to get good crops.
I was surprised, when I investigated sowing according to astrological timings, to find how strong the results were. This is a complicated method whereby most gardening chores are done according to the phases of the moon. Although I found much contradictory evidence as to the best date to sow any given thing, what was plainly evident was how much difference sowing a few days apart could make. I conclude we ought to sow in at least three batches a few days apart, and then select the best — and there is rarely a doubt as to which batch that is.
Other tasks have their own schedule, for example cutting a grass lawn for neatness becomes progressively more difficult the later in the spring we wait to start. Clearing an overgrown area is much easier in late winter when all the growth is dormant. And, of course, we can only collect leaves when they fall in autumn.
Becoming familiar with the seasonal change in activity soon enables every gardener to pace their workload so that it never overwhelms them. Indeed, one of the joys of gardening is that it can be done at so many levels depending on the amount of time and effort you are able and willing to put in. For instance,is a make-work scheme compared to a garden design based entirely on evergreens, or even a croquet lawn. But even so, the same result can be achieved by a lot of hard work ill planned and too late, or by a little at the right time. It takes but a moment’s thought not to plant fruit or flowers that will be at their best right in the middle of your annual summer holiday.