An Alarming Sunday Afternoon
I am a little bit worried about something I observed this afternoon. I live in Ottawa, Zone 5, much like upstate New York. We have had a very poor summer - quite cool and wet with the odd real summer day. Our gardens have not been doing well - particularly the vegetable gardens. My pepper plants are very small, as are my okras, and cucumbers. My tomatoes were put in late but are O.K. What is most surprising, is that many things - peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, okras are laden with blossoms, but no or very few fruit. Only one of my peppers (a Jalapeno) has produced 2 fruit to date. Two chilli plants have one (green)pepper each. Several of the tomato plants have lots of blossoms but few have small fruit. My friend who lives in Montreal is complaining about the same thing. She says her pepper blossoms are all dropping(mine may be but I have been distracted all summer by a renovation). Anyway, this afternoon as I sat on the deck I noticed there was a strange, kind of eerie feel to my backyard. There is lots of colour in the garden because lots of perennials in bloom, but what I soon realized was that there was NO wild life in the garden. No birds, no butterflies, no bees!! Right now my asclepias is in full bloom but not a monarch has been seen this summer. My agastache, and Giant Balsam, which are bee magnets are just standing there. It was uncanny. My yard is usually full of honey bees and yellow jackets but there are none. Is that why we are having no fruit? Are we lacking pollinators? I then went out into the front yard and saw one solitary yellow jacket at my Hosta Yellow River, and when I returned to the back I saw a honey bee 'diving' into a balsam flower. At this time of the year, I usually see hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. Bees, butterflies, and wasps are usually fighting for space on the asclepias. I am usually dodging bees when dead heading in the garden - a yellow jacket stung me on the cheek two years ago. I saw a post on another forum a few weeks ago when a poster was 'taken to task' for suggesting the use of a chemical spray for the red lily beetle. It was suggested that if we continue to try to kill things off we will kill of the bees. In fact, it was mentioned that there is something affecting bee populations world wide. Have we killed them all off with pesticides? This feeling really woke me up!! It really brought home to me the importance of staying away from these chemicals. I am so glad that I have persevered in staying away from chemicals for the last 25 years. I will be checking daily to see if the situation continues. If anyone else is having a similar experience, I would like to hear.