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Get the 2021 Garden Calendar

The Science of Gardening

A woman snaps beans with text stating: Rooted in Heritage: 2020 WVU Extension Service Garden Calendar.

The WVU Extension Service Garden Calendar is produced and distributed each year as a service to West Virginia’s many home gardeners and agricultural producers. The annual calendar is just one of many meaningful projects, programs and outreach efforts provided by WVU Extension Service throughout West Virginia’s 55 counties.

If you have gardening questions or want more information, please contact your county’s WVU Extension Service office. Be sure to check out information for controlling garden pests year-round and related learning activities for even more opportunities.

Enjoy this year’s Garden Calendar!

Download the 2021 Garden Calendar  Get a Garden Calendar at Your Local County Office
This PDF download is provided as a convenience for printing the document at home.
The WVU Extension Service is committed to providing reasonable accommodations upon request.

Note: To print as many Garden Calendars as existing funds allow,  the WVU Extension Service may not be able to honor web or email requests for mailed calendars. Please contact your nearest county office to get a calendar. Your understanding is sincerely appreciated.

Fresh from the Garden Calendar

What is Heliotropism?

A sunflower blooms large.

Light from the sun provides the solar energy used by plants for photosynthesis. Heliotropism, or solar tracking, is when a plant follows the movement of the sun during the day. Rooted in ancient Greek, “helio” refers to the sun and “tropism” means a turning or movement of a living organism toward or away from an external stimulus, such as light, heat or gravity.

The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is the best example of a plant that displays this phenomenon. Young sunflower plants follow the sun from east to west during the day and then, reorient themselves during the night to face east in anticipation of the sunrise.

Read about What is Heliotropism?

The Role of Pollination

Flowers being pollinated by a bee.

Pollination is essential for reproduction in seed-bearing plants, and therefore, much of the foods and ecosystems we enjoy. 

Pollination is the physical transfer of pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma. A pollinator is an animal that moves pollen from flower to flower.  

Read about The Role of Pollination

Worms, Worms, Worms

A mess of earth worms on a table.

Earthworms benefit your garden soil in many ways. These underground excavators burrow channels in soil, making it more porous and improving drainage. They also bring some of the subsoil closer to the surface, mixing it with topsoil and increasing the amount of quality planting soil available.

Earthworms help plants grow by providing better airflow to the roots. Worms’ excretions are rich in nutrients and bacteria. And, the slimy secretions that earthworms produce contain nitrogen, which also promotes plant growth.

Read about Worms, Worms, Worms

How Plants Use Water

A person waters flowers.

Water is an essential nutrient for plants and comprises up to 95% of a plant’s tissue. It is required for a seed to sprout, and as the plant grows, water carries nutrients throughout the plant. Water is responsible for several important functions within plant tissues. 

Water is necessary for photosynthesis, which is how plants use energy from the sun to create their own food. During this process, plants use carbon dioxide from the air and hydrogen from the water absorbed through their roots and release oxygen as a byproduct. This exchange occurs through pore-like stoma on the leaves.  

Read about How Plants Use Water

Germinating Seeds

A mess of plants sprouting from germinated seeds.

Germination is the process by which a plant grows from a seed into a seedling. Seeds remain dormant until conditions are favorable for germination. All seeds need water, oxygen and optimal temperature to germinate.  

When a seed is exposed to the proper conditions, water and oxygen are taken in through the seed coat. The embryo’s cells start to enlarge. Then, the seed coat breaks open and the root emerges first, followed by the shoot that contains the leaves and stem.  

Read about Germinating Seeds

A Note from the Dean

A scenic WV mountain vista sunrise.

Dear Friends of WVU Extension Service, 

The past year generated a renewed interest in gardening. Seasoned gardeners poured their hearts and souls into perfecting crops, while the more novice gardeners took this opportunity to try home gardening for the first time. Our Family Nutrition Program received more than 25,000 requests for seeds as part of its “ Grow This! Challenge,” and families enjoyed learning about the benefits of gardening. 

Read about A Note from the Dean

Seed Libraries

A seed library envelope marked Fat Man Beans - Need Staked on Poles - Heirloom

Seed libraries are a great way to find seeds you need, can’t find anywhere else or would like to try. They also provide a wonderful opportunity for you to share extra seeds you have with other growers in your area.

You may be asking yourself what exactly is a seed library. It’s just that – a library for seeds – and can normally be found at your local library.

Read about Seed Libraries

Heritage Squash

Heritage squash growing.

Squash is one of North America’s oldest cultivated crops. It was originally one of three primary crops grown by Native American groups.

Today’s squash varieties can be broken up into two main categories: summer and winter. Summer squash includes varieties of yellow squash and zucchini that are picked at an immature stage when the rind is still soft and edible.

Read about Heritage Squash

Heritage Corn

An ear of heritage corn among a basket of kernels.

For centuries, humans have grown grains for food, animal feed and countless other uses. Today, we enjoy our corn roasted, popped, grilled, creamed and made into a longtime favorite of West Virginians, cornbread.

For those wanting that old-timey corn flavor, Golden Bantam is the way to go. This variety is known for early planting and its rich flavor. These stalks only grow to 5 feet tall with two ears that are approximately 6 inches in length. Plant 1 inch deep with 5 to 6 inches between seeds in rows that are 2 to 3 feet apart. When the plants are about 4 inches tall, they will need thinned to 1 foot apart.

Read about Heritage Corn

Heritage Melons

Heritage melons grow in the field

Melons have long been favored for their sweetness and ease of growing with their cultivation having been documented as far back as ancient Egypt.

Melons are well-suited to West Virginia’s climate and growing season. They are members of the cucurbit family, which includes squash, gourds and cucumbers. Melons are warm season crops and prefer a sunny location with fertile, well drained soil.

Read about Heritage Melons

Proper Soil Moisture

Moldy mildew on a plant.

Typically, soil moisture is out of our control, unless growing crops in a high tunnel or greenhouse. In a perfect gardening world, it would rain as often as the crops need watered but that’s not always the case. Too much water can cause leaching of nutrients and diseases, and not enough water will result in a small harvest or plant death.

If the soil is dry throughout the entire growing season, the best way to retain soil moisture is to amend the top 6 to 12 inches with organic matter, such as grass clippings, worm castings, mushroom compost or straw.

Read about Proper Soil Moisture

Heritage Beans

Heritage beans climbing twine.

Beans have been grown in home gardens for years. In fact, beans have a richer genetic diversity in Appalachia than anywhere else in the world.

Heritage beans are versatile beans that can be eaten fresh, shelled fresh or even shelled as a dry bean. Compared to a commercial snap bean, heritage beans have more fiber and protein per serving.

Read about Heritage Beans

Request a Garden Calendar

Visit your local county office to get a copy of WVU Extension's free Garden Calendar.