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Asparagus and Peony Bushes Say Season Is Still Two Weeks Behind Schedule

Who needs a weatherman when you can judge the season by plant growth?

Weathermen don't always get the weather right. Mother Nature does most of the time. Sometimes she fools herself, but you can usually track spring weather patterns by how spring plants develop.

Take my asparagus patch for example. Normally it starts producing around April 10-14. It's an old but productive patch. Two years ago, in 2012, it started around April 1. But then we all know how that story turned out: not so good!

This year after a cold winter and cool spring I took my first cutting on April 21. It has been producing like clockwork ever since. I take cuttings about every three days. If you like asparagus, you haven't lived until you've eaten asparagus picked tender and grilled or fried within a couple hours. I also love a casserole with a cream sauce and boiled egg slices on top.

The asparagus is still producing, so I know it's still spring, Once it warms up more somehow it knows it's time to stop sending out shoots.

My other big measuring stick for plant development is growth of peony bushes. South of US 40 it's pronounced 'piney' bushes, but my wife, from north of 40 originally, insists it's pronounced as it is written – peony.

At any rate, my varieties usually have blooms by now. They have buds but not blooms. Cooler temperatures this past week didn't spur development either. They'll no doubt be in full bloom by or before Memorial Day, when older varieties traditionally bloomed, but they're running about two weeks behind schedule.

If I checked growing degree days, the scientific way to measure how the season is progressing as far a plant growth, I know they would be running behind normal too. Growing degree day accumulations are a measure of how much heat has accumulated since the season began. Certain crops take specific numbers of HDDs to reach certain points in their development.

It's easier for me just to walk to the asparagus patch or look out the window at the 'piney' bushes. Spring is still running two weeks late!

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