In the midst of a heat wave and on the verge of a drought, it seems like a good time to take stock of life in our yard - the birds and mammals, the good and the bad insects, vegetables, the fruits, flowers and herbs.
The drip irrigation in the main vegetable garden is keeping the crops watered, healthy, and producing. The sugar snap peas are fading a bit as they always do this time of year; peas don't like the heat. Yet I'm still harvesting plump, sweet pods daily, although with 90 degree days forecast for the coming week, their days are numbered. The chard and kale are lush and ready for any meal, they never fade. This morning I harvested our first tomatoes: two luscious sun gold tomatoes.
Our six blueberry bushes produce a handful of nearly ripe berries each day, enough to accompany our morning bowl of granola. We pick them with a slight blush of pink, before the birds pick off the ripe berries. The peach trees are loaded, the chipmunks are leaving them alone now. There are still plenty of chipmunks in the yard and beyond. Chipmunks are doing well.
The Japanese beetle population is as high as ever. I've collected hundreds already this season, scooping them into a yogurt container of soapy water. They seem to have three favorite plants in our yard: American hazel, blueberry bushes, and evening primrose. The hazel is their favorite. The best time to collect them is in the morning, when they are a bit sluggish. The Japanese beetles are doing too well.
My friend Joanne at the Yellow Dog's Barn asked me this week about crickets. She hasn't heard them chirping for several years now. That got me thinking the same. We usually get at least one black cricket in our basement, but probably not for several years. I've been checking around about crickets, but haven't heard about any population crashes. Scott said that the ground crickets emerged in May/June then disappeared with the heat. Srini says the deer flies are really bad this year. For some reason they don't bother me as much as mosquitos. Both are bothersome and doing well.
In general, the yard is looking good, except for the patch of grass over the septic tank which always dies about now. The effort to keep it green is not worth the effort or the water. I save that for the vegetables, which we can eat, and the flowers, which bring in the hummingbirds and bees and butterflies. The bee balm, shasta daisy, coreopsis, coneflowers, and yarrow are in full bloom.
I look forward to hearing from others about what is happening in your yard.