Just fishing for any folks who might be asking, "IS SOMETHING GOING ON WITH THE SEASON"?
Is anyone seeing really unusual happenings in plant growth and performance in your area. --- I know, every season is different from every other, but we have folks talking here in the northern Great Lakes and wondering if something is going on with the sun, or some other element than mere seasonal differences in precipitation and temperature.
For example: Trees that have not borne a single fruit in decades ... or ever, this year have not only a bumper crop of fruit, but of very large fruit as well.
There are almost no black walnuts to be had, but the chestnuts are fantastically laden with not only a HEAVY crop, which usually means smaller nuts, but a HEAVY CROP of ESPECIALLY LARGE NUTS.
We have large tomatoes still setting fruit and heavy fruit still ripening some 30 days beyond our historic average date for first frost.
Here is another seasonal weirdness: "PEAK COLOR" in the sugar maples and hardwoods of this region is right around Oct.1, plus or minus a few days. In some years, the leaves are already down or nearly so by this date (Oct 15). And yet the color change almost has not even started yet. The color season is almost a month LATE.
And just to throw in a wildcard, ground water levels are up several feet with dry lake beds now full of water. The Great Lakes were recently approaching historic heights and nothing in the regional pattern of precipitation can account fully for this rise from recent historic lows. Radical lake water reactions?
So ... weird stuff. But is anyone else seeing anything really unusual or odd about what is or is not happening in Nature?
One fellow is suggesting the plants are reacting differently due to changes in the nature of the sun light itself. Can anyone with better knowledge comment on this theory and what it might mean?
Is water being driven up from the interior of the Earth? Is this a prelude to "the Big One"?
Life would not be as fun without the occasional paranoia ...
I'll start with this line: "Life would not be as fun without the occasional paranoia ...". First, we are in the upper midwest and my completely unfounded guess is that regions tend to group in terms of garden anomalies. Thus, in past years, I've been amazed at how similar the garden productivity is here around Fargo, ND versus friends and relative's gardens in Wisconsin, even if rainfall amounts and number of sunny days differ. So now adding your location of Michigan, I can say that we may have had a similar year to yours. Wife is downright concerned over the lack of ripe tomatoes, even as we have a boatload of large green ones. (In fact, just before clicking on the Permies forum, I was just looking up ways to ripen-off green tomatoes inside the house.) And just as you noted, apple trees did well, but more curiously was the abnormally large fruit. Additionally strange is the fact that I'm still swatting mosquitoes in the garden at dusk, even though we've had the usual frost activity which normally knocks them back.
I do think it's a strange season, but not yet something to worry about. We like stored (frozen) tomatoes for getting us through the winter and will have to be a bit more rationing of these this year, but the overabundance of things like sweet and hot peppers, tomatillos, kale and other greens, apples and squash, etc. just means we have to consider different meals this year.
Edit: Did you have potatoes? Our russetts were small and low yielding, but the reds were monsters and abundant! Some years this is reversed.
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”― Albert Einstein
The spruces here were so loaded with cones that the tops were breaking! I attribute it to the fact that we had an extreme drought the previous summer (2015); that stress probably pushed them into reproductive mode this summer (2016). But maybe they know something that I don't. It is certainly very, very odd. So, should I be worried that the trees are (literally) bent on replacing themselves?
SPRUCE? I've seen the same here in the Northern Lower Peninsula. Heaviest seed crop I can remember seeing.
We were breaking limbs on apple and chestnut trees.
How about NO TOMATO CATERPILLARS? We've never had a season without picking dozens of fat-fat worms off our heirloom collections. In fact, there have been fewer insects here all around. Few MONARCH BUTTERFLIES ... indeed, few butterflies of any kind. Did not use any insect repellent at all this year. Fact is, I cannot recall a single mosquito bite this year.
POTATOES? I'll do some asking around as I do not grow my own spuds as a rule. I have limited garden space, and with the presence of several large potato farms in the area have chosen not to use space growing something I can buy or trade for so easily.
Tubers? Root crops in general? Turnips seem smaller, but plant tops are plush with fat green growth of substantial size. And JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES are the tallest I've ever seen. Normally six feet or so on average, we have many over 12 feet tall with stalks significantly heavier than normal.
But how about that groundwater? I know ground water levels can be obscured because they are out of our site. Any noticeable changes in well levels?
NO ... I'm not "afraid" of seasonal differences. Just amused with how varied seasons and plant performance can change for reasons so poorly understood at times.
HOW IS THE ACORN CROP IN YOUR AREA? How about a nut report from your region. Walnuts? Butternuts? Chestnuts? How about Pecans?
INSECTS: Plenty of insects here, particularly yellow jackets. They got me five times this summer! Also, earwigs. Lots and lots of earwigs. We had a very mild winter, nothing below zero, so that is not surprising. We do rely on the cold to reduce their populations.
WATER: We do have a number of perforated pipes to test the ground water, but I have not checked them recently. From past experience, I know that our ground water levels range from eighteen inches to seven feet depending upon the location and the season. (Our neighbor has constant issues with flooding in his crawl space. Fortunately, we are situated a bit higher. Plus, we built on a slab.) Anyhow, it's been raining on and off since the beginning of the month and the surface is completely saturated, so it wouldn't surprise me if we get some flooding soon in the low areas. As for our well, no problems, but then we put that down 185 feet into the aquifer.
NUTS: I've tried to grow various walnuts here, including carpathian walnuts, black walnuts, and butternuts. Unfortunately, while these trees are (theoretically) hardy in our zone, they do not go dormant early enough, so they get shocked back every year by the first hard frost. That usually happens in early September. This year we dropped to 25.9 degrees on September 13. If I ever do manage to get one to grow to size, much less produce nuts, I'll let you know! And pecans? Oh, I wish! Now, pine nuts we have in abundance. Too bad all the natives are so fiddly. I bought a couple of Korean nut pines a few years back, but it will be a good while yet before I get any nuts.
ACORNS: We don't have any oak trees. I can't think of any neighbors that do either.
Anyhow, I'm not actually worried about these variations either. I was aiming (and missing!) at a bit of humor
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