So let’s say you’ve been gardening for a few years, and you’ve been really, really consistent at keeping your garden journal. You’ve noted when your crocus and forsythia bloom, the date of the first and last frost, monthly rain or snowfall amounts, maybe when you spotted your first hummingbird, or when you were able to plant your first peas and pick your first tomato. By now you have loads of information that is fun to look back on during the dark days of winter, but beyond a walk down memory lane, what are these records good for?
Well … in the very near future you may be able to submit this information to an historical database that will input similar information from gardeners across the U.S., all for the lofty purpose of tracking climate change.
If this topic sounds vaguely familiar, you probably read my previous posts on garden journals and on Project BudBurst. Hint: scroll down, but not until you’ve finished reading here. I’d like to say I learned all this through in depth research into phenology, but the reality is I simply learned of this by listening to the radio while driving in my car. Leave it to NPR. Their Friday afternoon broadcast, Science Friday, focused the first half of the show on phenology and the USA National Phenology Network. The topic? This group’s attempt to encourage citizen volunteers to monitor plant species … what we know as Project BudBurst. But in true NPR fashion, they delved much deeper into the numerous and expansive missions of the phenology org. They highlighted long-term plans to create this historical dataset of all the records of all the gardeners willing to share their years of journal notation; as well as their other future plans, like expanding into animal phenology in 2010. Learn more by clicking on the ‘participate’ link on their website.
How cool is this? Rather than being relegated to a musty attic or some dusty shelf, your records may actually be put to use to help monitor the life of our planet … or at least our United States’ portion of it. Think of the impressive undertaking this is, and how constructive these collective data could be. It’s like voting … your single vote may seem miniscule, but all votes compiled together direct a nation.
In deference to Pig Pen and his creator (and I know some of you will get this) … It kinda makes you look at that dusty garden journal with a little respect.