Show Your True Colors – Come to the Sustainability Committee Meeting Oct. 29
Outside now we are in the midst of colorful event that occurs in temperate regions of the world. Yes, autumn, that wonderful season when things begin their preparation for winter. One of the most notable changes occurs in deciduous trees where the predominant light-harvesting pigment, chlorophyll, gives way to other accessory pigments. What do the other pigments do and have they been there all along?
The various pigmented molecules absorb different wavelengths of light and can transfer any captured energy to chlorophyll. Although they have been there all season they have only become the predominant players quite recently. One big group of these accessory pigments are the carotenoids. You can probably guess that this group included some orange, as well as red and yellow pigments. There are a few “evergreens” that lose their leaves (needles) as well, this includes larch and tamarix.
After a few weeks, this kaleidoscope of colors show comes to an end as leaves begin to fall off these trees. Most leaves possess a fairly large surface area and if they stayed on trees they would hold plenty of snow, making branches very heavy and leading to real physical problems. Some of you will recall all too easily what happened several years ago during the October to Remember when we had a tremendous snowfall on Friday, October 13th and all the ensuing damage to the trees.
So what should you do with your leaves? If you can I would strongly urge you to use these as a mulch; they add tilth and fertility to the soil. They are great for flower beds or vegetable gardens.
Where do all the leaves go when you put them in your garden? Actually worms eat a fair proportion of them, with the rest being degraded by fungi, bacteria, and other wee beasties. Their actions return the nutrients to the soil, which will support the growth of plants next year. So go out, enjoy the colors of fall while you can, and rest assured that spring will bring the return of leaves.