Debut show! Joe Lamp’l explains why leaves change color each fall, how to get great deals at the nursery, what to do with all those fall leaves to create super soil and a community garden story you won’t want to miss.
001 Show Notes
Tip of the Week: Great deals on plants and a homemade sandbag to keep your pots upright when bringing them home
This week’s tip comes to you as a two-part bonus. In the fall, most garden centers begin dramatically reducing their inventories, especially of summer perennials. Well, just because they don’t want to care for them anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t! I’ve made some of my best deals in the fall and filled my garden to overflowing in the process. Many garden centers will have closeout plants on a rack as fair game to the first takers for pennies on the dollar. That’s o.k., but I’ve found my best plant deals by getting to know the manager and making them aware of my interest to hear about cheap plants and great deals. Oftentimes, they’re happy to help. I’ve even had them call me with a collection of plants they’ve set aside for me to pick up.
Here’s a word of advice: Don’t be too picky. Consider taking all offers, even if you’re not all that thrilled with some of the plants. After all, the easier you make it on them, the more likely they’ll be to contact you first, the next time they have a great deal. That said, it doesn’t hurt to let them know what type of garden you have – such as full sun or, maybe, a woodland garden. That way, they’ll be able to offer you appropriate plants and offer those suited for a different garden to another customer who has requested the same favor.
Now, here’s the bonus: Assuming you’ve made your first great heist of the season and you load up your car or trunk with the bounty, how do you keep them from falling over or sliding around on the drive home? Well one of my favorite magazines, Fine Gardening, shared a tip in their Sept/Oct 2007 edition that I though was really clever. One of their readers made a couple of long skinny sandbags out of the legs of her husband’s old jeans. She cut off one leg and sliced it open down the side. Then she split that leg into two pieces, making long skinny rectangles. Next, she sewed the rectangles closed on the long side to form tubes. Each tube was filled with sand and sewn shut. Now, she no longer has pots and dirt all over her trunk when she gets home.
A Chicago Community Garden
Whether offering a peaceful respite or produce to feed the less fortunate, community gardens are a priceless resource for education and building of community spirit. Fiskars’ Project Orange Thumb awards a deserving neighborhood with a garden “built in a day” by way of its grant program. Worthy gardens are given $5,000 in cash and tools and one location will receive a complete garden from top to bottom. This was the case with Altgeld Gardens in Chicago.
Why Leaves Change Color Each Fall
No matter where you live, who can’t help but marvel at the splendor of a brightly-colored autumn vista. So, what’s behind this annual event? Why do leaves change color every autumn, and why are some years more vivid in color than others?
Well to understand what’s involved each fall in this color transformation, it’s helpful to know two important points. The first has to do with when leaves start to change. The second involves how weather signals the role of the color pigments and impacts intensity of color from year to year.
So, first is timing. The timing of leaf color change is primarily affected by the calendar. As days become shorter, the amount of sunlight available for plants to photosynthesize is reduced. This is nature’s way of signaling plants that winter is on the way. Energy begins to shift from food production into storage and reserves. This is when color pigments begin to change. As the photosynthesis process slows down in response to shorter days, so does the production of chlorophyll – that dominant pigment responsible for all the green we see when plants are actively growing.
There are actually three pigments responsible for leaf color. In addition to chlorophyll, carotenoid pigments are also present during the active growing season. They’re best known for producing the yellows, oranges and browns. Chlorophyll is so dominate that the carotenoid pigments aren’t apparent until the photosynthesis process shuts down in fall. Eventually, the photosynthesis process ceases; and all chlorophyll is depleted, allowing the carotenoid pigments to take center stage.
The third pigment, anthocyanins, aren’t even present in leaves until autumn. Warm bright days of fall produce lots of sugars in leaves. As the days shorten and the nights cool, veins leading into and out of the leaves gradually close, trapping those excess sugars. The combination of bright light and trapped sugars stimulates the production of the anthocyanin pigments, which produce the vivid shades of reds and purple and the many hues in between. So in the absence of chlorophyll, carotenoid and anthocyanin pigments light up the fall landscape.
The second factor – and the one most responsible for the intensity of autumn color – is the weather. The most brilliant fall displays are the result of a warm wet spring, a mild summer, bright sunny autumn days, and cool but above-freezing nights. When these elements combine, the result is the most vivid color exhibition.
So as you enjoy this season’s display of color, I hope you’ll be rewarded with exceptional views. Next spring, when it’s warm and wet, be happy. It may be the makings of a spectacular fall!
Question of the Week; What to do about Overhanging Limbs?
Well, one of my favorite things about gardening is that, no matter how much you know, you’ll never know it all. So each week, we’ll answer some of your questions. This week, we have an email from Janice in San Francisco. She’s concerned about some limbs overhanging from her neighbors’ property onto hers. They appear to be dead, and she wants to know how far she can go to correct the problem? Who’s responsible for removing the limbs, and what are her rights?
Well according to an attorney friend I talked to, you certainly have the right to ‘self-help” when it comes to branches encroaching into your property, and that’s true for every state. However, you aren’t legally allowed to lean over into their property to remove limbs. That’s known as trespassing.
Most of the time, you can’t force your neighbor to take action, so what do you do? Well, the first thing is, of course, to talk to them about it. A casual conversation between neighbors is always the best first step. In addition, you should put it in writing (and be sure to keep a copy for yourself). I know that seems a bit formal, but this establishes proof that notice has been given – should something happen later.
In the event future damage does occur on your property, your recovery will be based on how your state addresses this issue. Some view it as negligence, while others treat it as a nuisance matter. However by all means, be a good neighbor and address your concerns early.