CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Wednesday Sept. 22 marks the beginning of fall.
It's time to plant fall vegetables! Transplants of lettuce, collards, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, arugula and Swiss chard can go in now. No space? Put them in pots, but be sure if you're putting them into the pots that formerly held your summer flowers, replenish the soil with nutrients. There is still time to sow seeds of lettuce, arugula, collards, beets and radishes.
An interesting article by Jonathan Weems in the West Virginia Botanical Garden newsletter gives great insight into the fall leaves we are starting to see in our area.
The cooler, drier air and longer nights will trigger hormonal changes in leaf stems and in woody tree tissues and make the green of the chlorophyll fade as the water supply is disrupted. The fall colors were there all along, just overshadowed by that green. Now that chlorophyll production is shut down, the sun will show the true colors of the trees' leaves.
According to Weems, it's the lingering sugars that create the colorful new pigments.
Travel and tourism folks have tried to work with the science of leaf change to predict the best weekends for leaf-looking, but there are so many factors that it's often futile. So just get out and enjoy the cooler temperatures and look for those yellow birches, poplars, basswoods, elms and maples and the red blackgum, sourwood, sumac and red maples. White ash may have yellow, bronze and purple in its fall leaves.
No fall would be complete for many gardeners without planting bulbs. I don't do bulbs -- too many deer, rabbits, moles, voles and squirrels in our yard. But a recent news release from Cornell University has an interesting take on bulbs, and I might have to reconsider my no-bulb policy.
Deciding what to plant with what is often a gardener's dilemma, and professor Bill Miller and his Cornell Flower Bulb Research Program offer a complete website devoted to their research on determining best spring-blooming bulb and perennial combinations.
The Cornell researchers studied various bulb and perennial combos over four seasons. The project website profiles "Featured combos," "Top 15 combos," "Tips & How-to" and "Resources." Their research notes are provided on best selections for perennials with various fall-planted bulbs including tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, alliums, scilla, leucojum, eranthis, hyacinthoides and more.