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. But just b/c they don’t want to care for them anymore, that 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 know of cheap plants and great deals. Many times they’re happy to help. I’ve even had them call me with a collection of plants they’ve set aside for me to come and get.
But 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. Now having said that, it doesn’t hurt to let them know what type of garden you have, such as one in full sun or maybe a woodland garden. That way, they’ll be able to offer you appropriate plants and offer plants suited best for a different garden to another customer requesting the same favor.
O.K. so 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 until you get home? Well one of my favorite magazines, Fine Gardening, had a tip in their Sept/Oct 2007 edition that I though was really clever. One of their readers made a couple 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 and on one end. 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.
If you have a tip you’d like to share, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us and leave a message on our comment line. That number is 206.337.0375.
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 it’s 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 issue involves how weather, signals the role of the color pigments and addresses why some years are more intense in colors than others.
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. And 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.
But there are three pigments responsible for leaf color. In addition to chlorophyll, carotenoid pigments are also present during the active growing season. They’re best known best for producing the yellows, oranges and browns. But because chlorophyll is so dominate, it’s not until the photosynthesis process shuts down in fall, that carotenoid pigments begin to become apparent. 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. But as the days shorten and the nights cool, these excess sugars are trapped as veins leading into and out of the leaves gradually close. The combination of bright light and trapped sugars stimulate the production of the anthocyanin pigments. They 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 this combination comes together, the result is the most vivid color exhibition.
So, as you enjoy this season’s display of color, hopefully you’ll be rewarded with exceptional views. And 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 overhanging limbs coming onto her property from her neighbors’ side. 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” for branches encroaching into your property and that’s true for every state. But legally, you CAN’T 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 either so what DO you do??? The first thing is to of course, talk to them about it. A casual conversation between neighbors is always the first step. But in addition, you should put it in writing. I know that seems a bit formal but this establishes proof that notice has been given, should something happen later. And be sure to keep a copy for yourself.
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. But by all means, be a good neighbor and address your concerns early.
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You can access the show notes from previous shows on our website here. You can also order a personally autographed copy of my latest book, The Green Gardener’s Guide and don’t forget to check out my blog; Compost Confidential.
Thanks for listening! This is Joe Lamp’l and I’ll see you back here next time for more Growing a Greener World.