Monday, November 12, 2007

Fall colors

For the first time, I noticed how gorgeous some of my perennials are in the Fall. It's not only the trees that are changing colors ...

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
Shrubby cinquefoil (Potentilla frucitosa) -- is getting a purplish sheen to it.

Purple Loosestrife ( Lythrum salicaria L.) (despite the name, not purple in the summer)
Hosta -- I know it's dying, but this one looks pretty all yellow.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Memo to Maple Tree

To: Huge Maple Tree
Date: November 9, 2007
Re: Green Leaves

Dear Maple Tree,

I went outside today and saw that you were still sporting the green leaves. Love the look, but I just wanted to remind you that it's November 9th and, while I know you're not a follower, all the other trees have gone ahead and started to change colors. Some of them are already dropping their leaves: Anderson dropped them all in October -- although we know he's an overachiever.

And while I know that technically, I'm not your supervisor. Your work tends to get into my area causing major backup in my production leaf gathering schedule. Plus the weather's getting cold, so it would be great to have this all done by next weekend. Plus, the other guys are thinking you're kind of a bit of a show off, you are the grandest of them all. And with being grand, means lot of leaves for yours truly.

Thanks in advance and keep up the good work,


Friday, November 09, 2007

a big sigh in the suburbs

I am just going to tell myself that the guy I saw putting all his leaves in plastic garbage bags is really using them for composting. Despite them being tied at the end, I'm just going to tell myself that ...

Do I have to drive back past that house and steal them from his yard? Do I resort to this type of renegade activity?

I wrote the title as "a sigh in suburbs" because sometimes I feel like people in the city must be a little smarter than suburbanites when it comes to living organically. And I say that having lived my entire life in the burbs with a few years here and there in the city/collar suburbs. When I find a neighbor or fellow surburbanite who breaks the mold, I just want to embrace them and show them off as trophies to prove that, "Hey, we don't all drive SUVs and put chemicals on our lawns."


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It blows, it sucks, it mulches, oh my

I was busy in the yard this weekend -- mainly because I wanted to avoid writing my 50,000 words towards NaNoWriMo, but also because I wanted to try out my new blower.

It's not really new, it's just that I never knew it mulched leaves! What a bonus!

When my dad got it for Matt for his birthday last year, I thought, "We'll never use this." And I only used it once to blow and I found it obnoxiously loud. But this weekend I tried out the vacuum/mulcher feature and it's super. Now I can put mulched leaves on all my garden beds and I won't have the carpet of congealed leaves to pull off in the springtime; I can just leave them to nourish my plants... yum!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Plants 101: Nutrition

"Mmmmm, nitrogen.... tasty...." says the plant.

That's what I learned today in my plant class: the 16 macro and micro-nutrients essential for plant growth. if you don't have these in your soil, then your plants can't develop properly. The Cerberus of the macronutrients are:
  • nitrogen
  • phosphorous
  • potassium
These 16 nutrients are needed for the plant's lifecycle, no other element can replace them, and without them, they will die. How's that for dire? When they said, "It's a jungle out there," they weren't kidding.

We talked about a lot in class today. Here are the highlights:

Transpiration: that's the process of the plant absorbing H2O from the soil through the roots, taking it up through shoot, and then releasing it through the leaves (evaporating into the air through the stomata).

Soil: Soil is made up of sand, silt, and clay. It can be either Acidic or Alkaline. Perfect soil is called loam -- we don't like people who have this soil. In our area (Chicago), we're blessed with alkaline soil with tons of clay. Too much clay causes the soil to get compacted, this inhibits roots from growing and from water to soak into the soil. If you get water run-off, this is probably the cause. What to do? Add organic matter (compost) to the soil to balance it out. You'll have to do this all the time so start composting!

We got to look at our soil under the microscope and I found a lot of creepy crawlies hanging out; my teacher said it was excellent.

So that's you lesson for the day: without healthy soil you can't have healthy plant. So mulch those leaves and compost them or throw them into your beds, your plants will thank you for it.