Nothing exists in isolation. Our skin is covered with a thousand different types of bacteria, with a population close to a trillion. These critters help protect us against pests and diseases. Plants exist in the same way. There are microbes whose very existence relies upon the presence of a single plant variety's stamen. There are other bacteria that allow plant roots to absorb nitrogen.
As with all other living things, these microbes and bacteria are prey to larger, more complex beings. If these predators arrive too soon, or too late, they will starve, as will their predators, and so on.
Plant DNA contains a series of instructions on how to create the various parts of the plant and how to accomplish specific processes within the plant. As each plant part is developed, it is subject to external conditions: soil composition, temperature, humidity, sun exposure, rainfall, the presence of pollinators, and countless other variables that we have yet to identify.
In the world of gardening and agriculture, phenology models are used to predict the appearance of specific pests and diseases, allowing us to get a head start on protecting our plants. These models are generally temperature-based, since temperatures play such a large role in insect development.
One simple way to learn more about your local phenology is to collect the first fall leaf from your yard, or the first appearance of specific pests, and record the date. As years pass, you will see trends and changes as other factors are altered.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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