Things Aren’t Always Rosy if you are a farmer trying to raise crops or a gardener who enjoys having a vegetable or flower garden. Even if you are neither a farmer or gardener, you have probably seen in the news that some people have had to deal with drought, fires, floods, hail and even early snow this year. Thankfully while we are not facing any of those kind of troubles, things aren’t rosy here at our New England farm.
Over the past years, my husband and I have seen our property and orchard have its ups and downs depending on the weather each year here in New Hampshire. I thought you might be interested in seeing how the past harsh winter, the wet cold spring and a cooler than normal summer have all affected our orchard and garden.
You may understand why the old nursery rhyme “there was a little girl with a curl right in the middle of her forehead…when she was good, she was very, very good“, has me thinking about Mother Nature. Unfortunately the rest of the rhyme…”when she was bad, she was horrid” has been the way I think Mother Nature has treated us this year.
During the past years, the New Dawn climbing roses have grown up and over the garden shed and along one side of the picket fence around our garden. I love their pale pink color and the sweet and heady fragrance of their old fashioned blossoms.
This year, only one of the two plants survived the harsh winter and just barely. As you can perhaps see, there is only a single pink bloom at the very top of one branch near the shed.
In New Hampshire, September starts the fall apple picking season. The season usually runs through October for the later varieties. Once there have been several frosts, the remaining apples on the trees become much sweeter and are perfect for pressing cider.
Our back orchard should be a sea of red and yellow apples right now. The trees so loaded with large, juicy apples that many of the heavy laden branches bend down to the ground.
Unfortunately, this year the apple trees are almost empty of fruit and the orchard looks more like a park with its rolling landscape and sea of green, appleless trees.
Out of the hundred varieties of mostly heritage apples that we grow in our orchard, my favorite apple has always been a Mutzu. It is a large green to yellow apple that is juicy, crisp and slightly tart. Cortlands, a very popular apple here in New Hampshire, grow in several rows beside the Mutzu trees near the rock walls that line our farm. Again, in this section of the orchard there are only a handful of either variety of apples to pick.
In a good apple season, there are more than enough apples to keep ourselves, our friends and yes, even the deer and other critters happy. The deer still come into the orchard but they will be munching on the leaves and branches of our trees instead of apples this year.
The orchard in front of the barn is usually loaded with Gala and Starkrimson apples.
This season, the front orchard is almost bare of apples as well. If you look hard, you can see one red apple on the front tree of the left row…how sad.
You might be wondering why there are hardly any apples this season. During this past winter, the deer were out in the deep snow of the orchard eating lots of the tender apple buds. Come springtime when the trees were in bloom, we had rainy, windy days so the bees weren’t out pollinating the blossoms like they usually do. Without bees…no apples.
While it is disappointing to have a season with almost no apples, thankfully we don’t depend on selling them to earn a living as many people do. What does make me very sad is the fact that quite a few of our trees seem to be dying from the stresses of nature. A good part of summer has been very dry and I don’t think the trees will ever recover. Next spring, I think a number of dead trees will have to be removed from the orchard.
You probably don’t live on a farm and perhaps haven’t given much thought to seasons from one year to the next. One thing is for sure though…we all have to deal with the effects of a bad growing season. Go to your local market and walk down the produce aisle and sometimes you just have to shake your head. Not only might there be a shortage of good fruit and vegetables to purchase but what is in the produce bins may be more expensive than last year. If organic, you can be sure they are expensive. What you may not have thought about is all the money spent by the farmer who doesn’t have a crop this year to harvest. Things aren’t always rosy, especially if you are a farmer and depend on nature.