Otherwise known as the period of dormancy, the term "Persephone Period" originates in Greek mythology, referring to Persephone, daughter of Demeter (Goddess of the harvest and the cycle of life and death), who was forcibly married to Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Hades wanted his wife to live down in the Underworld all year, but the grief of her mother caused all vegetation to cease growing across the land. Persephone's father Zeus successfully cut a deal with Hades to allow her to return to the living world if she would return to the underworld every winter. This is how the term Persephone Period came to refer to a period of dormancy in plant life.
Dormancy is a necessary part of the life cycle that allows plants to overwinter by conserving their energy, drawing it mainly into their roots and below ground structures. Certain environmental cues trigger the beginning and end of dormancy, such as: photoperiod (amount of sunlight), temperature and moisture. It is important that we pay attention to these cycles, as global climate change is causing shifts that could have repercussions for our dependency on agrarian systems. While some fluctuation is normal, the extremes in climate that we have been experiencing can disrupt the delicate balance in a plant's life cycle, making it exceedingly difficult to cultivate for human use.
This is an important time for farmers too! We need to recharge, heal and plan for the year ahead. Time to tackle all the tasks that get away from us when the plants demand all our energy during the growing season. Before we know it, little green sprouts will be poking out of the snow and demanding attention.