Hello fellow readers,
Nuts are abundant this fall which, in weather folklore, means a harsh winter is ahead. When walking around our Shagbark Hickory trees (Carya ovata) it feels as though I’m skating on marbles. The first time I was introduced to shagbark nuts was when a golf ball sized torpedo beaned my head while gardening. “Fore.” Note to self, best to wear a hardhat in the fall. The shaggy bark of this native beauty provides an outstanding sculpture in the landscape, however it’s not used in the trades because of the mess. Interestingly only the mature trees have shaggy bark. Young trees are smooth. Sounds familiar?
Beyond providing food for critters including squirrels, raccoons, black bears, foxes, and turkeys, shagbark hickory nuts can be people food too. They’re a pecan substitute, though their unpredictable nut production makes them not viable for orchard production.
As you would expect the folklore of harsh winters ahead, when plentiful nuts and narrow brown-banded woolly bear caterpillars abound, are not scientifically proven. The old tried and true Farmer’s Almanac predicts 2017-2018 winter temperatures will likely be more normal than in years past in the Northeast. But five coastal storms are likely to pound the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast providing a snowier winter than normal. Yay for us snow lovers!
Then there’s the more traditional authority of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who explains the “biggest wildcard” is a 55 to 65-percent chance of an “La Nina that could shape the character of the upcoming winter.” If the La Nina manifests it typically influences “above average precipitation and colder than average temperatures along the Northern Tier of the U.S. and below normal precipitation and drier conditions across the South.”
NOAA clarifies their seasonal outlooks provide likelihoods of temperature and precipitation only, not projected snowfall accumulations. “Snow forecasts are generally not predictable more than a week in advance because they depend upon the strength and track of winter storms.” No kidding! Recall last year’s mild temps and no snow until we were slammed with the March blizzard making up for the lack of Frosty. In other words, let’s wait and see. Meanwhile bring out your winter coats and protect your evergreens by spraying Wilt-Pruf or other natural resin to protect them from winter burn.
Garden Dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com