I’m beginning to hear from a variety of sources the opinion expressed that this summer is particularly disappointing. Both farmers and beekeepers were grumbling loudly on the radio this morning, while ski lift operators were cheering about how long the skiing season had lasted. I knew already that bees were not having a good summer as I have a hive in my garden. I don’t look after it — I am just lending the space to a local beekeeping co-operative. The chap who looks after the bees tells me that the numbers are very low and there isn’t much honey in the hive, largely because the weather has been too cold and wet for the bees to get out and forage.
The definitive answer on whether it was a good summer will have to wait until my super hi-tech climate integrating device has fruited (or not). It has got to the point of flowering, but I can not remember at what time it did that last year. Whether you have a grape vine out of scientific interest, or because you have wine-making ambitions, or just because you like dolmades, you certainly don’t do so because of the dramatic showy flowers:
The size of the grape crop seems to depend on whether it was a hot summer or not. With other crops it is a bit more puzzling. The apricot harvest has gone down from one to zero this year, probably because the flowers come out very early and it only takes one cold night to scupper the crop for a year. The apricot tree is still a baby, really, although it has grown quite a lot.) Even more mysteriously, the gooseberry crop was very poor this year. I can’t even blame my hated enemy the sawfly larva; there have been hardly any of them either.
My lovely Worcester Pearmain, on the other hand, is making a proper effort this year, after several years of poor or zero crops.
I can’t explain that either. I suspect that the bad years are due to sparrows eating all of the flower buds but if that is correct I have no idea why they left the buds alone this year.