New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
Will the garden produce this summer? If it smells like the sea....
Wow almost a week without a wash out except for today. While we did get a couple of quick moving thunderstorms this week most of the week was sunny and nice. Perfect for my morning hikes and a trip to the beach.
My morning hikes were pretty uneventful. I guess my major observations were:
The local blueberry crop is a bust this year compared to the last three or more.
The bust on baby toads this year was not just at my house as I am not seeing the usual hordes of baby toads elsewhere either.
I did see four baby toads in my hour and a half hike up to the height of land in my usual hike down into Bear Brook State Park. By this time of July I am usually seeing hundreds not only on my lawn but in other places as they scatter into the forests from their spring spawning pools. It looks like this spring was a bust for toads, and probably frogs all over the place. Same goes for the blueberry crop around here at least. The past two summers I have gone out with my blueberry rake and filled a five gallon bucket in less than an hour. These frozen nuggets have topped my morning cereal for a while now. Fortunately I still have a supply from last year. There are scattered blueberries in my hikes. Enough to pause and pluck a handful of the blue bounty here and there, but they are scattered with just a berry or two here and there and not the carpet of blue that has been the norm the last two summers. Plus they are real small this year. Lord knows we have had plenty of moisture for them to form, but it is the lack of sun that seems to have stunted them.
And I am wondering when I'll get any tomatoes in my garden. I did pick a couple of pail fulls of string beans this week. But it really is only half of what they should have produced and there are no blossoms that would be coming along for a second crop. My tomato plants seem to be thriving but the fruits have been slow to form and are still very small. I should have plump ripe tomatoes by now. And if we have an early frost this year I'll not get much from my twenty or so plants. I did pick my first cucumber yesterday. Despite hours and hours spent in my garden this summer, it looks better than it ever has, it just is not producing like it should.
So I am wondering about the wild crops of berries and fruits for wildlife. My crab apple trees seem to be producing OK , but my mother's apple trees have hardly any fruit on them. I'll be checking the oak and cherry trees over the next few weeks to see how the wild crops are coming. We sure do need more sun to move things along. The days will be quickly growing shorter for sunlight. We really need the long days of June and July to move the fruits along. That just didn't happen this year.
I did take my two granddaughters for a long walk down the road to my mothers house one afternoon. My oldest granddaughter, "I'm five and a half." Katie has been after me to show her the old Suncook Railroad bed, whose remnants run through my back yard and parallel the road out front. We did stop in the heat of the late afternoon for a walk up the brook from the road to the old railroad bridge which still hangs over the brook. I pulled the girls in the wagon the mile or so to my moms house. Normally by this late in the summer this brook is just a trickle and some years has ceased flowing by now. But this year the cool steady flow of water felt good to our feet as we waded upstream. A couple days ago I went with my daughter and both girls to a beach in Rye. As we neared the beach my daughter queried the just turned three year old Erin "Did you toot?" on smelling the salt marsh we were traveling past. Erin was quick to respond "No Mommy, that is the ocean." So even at three she has learned the smell of the sea. Life is such an adventure with my grandchildren.
Of gorgeous green grasshoppers, tiny tot toads and my little bug girl. The circle of life is forming.
Summer at last. Enjoying the warm summer's eves.