Fall Colors – Too Bad it is not Kingwood

 Ahhhhhh, the beautiful colors of Fall! Unfortunately, in my adopted hometown of Kingwood it seems to never arrive. Today is December 9th and we are beginning to have a hint of fall here in the Houston area. Now, I have not been totally shut out of the fall color changes. The problem is that Kathy and I had to wander off to Knoxville, Tennessee to find it. November 18th, while walking through downtown Knoxville we were treated to a taste of Fall. This was a beautiful park in downtown Knoxville.

Back home in Kingwood we live in the middle a dense forest. We have a great mix of both evergreens and deciduous trees. We should have a very nice fall color change but Mother Nature has been displaying her nasty side. She allowed a strong La Nina to become a fixture in the eastern Pacific ocean…. water temperatures have become cooler than normal. The cool waters in that part of the ocean translate into hot and dry conditions across the southwest and south-central portions of the US. In the case of Texas…. we are now in the midst of the worst drought in over 100 years and the warm loooooong summer has stalled the coming of Fall – well not really, the calendar says it is Fall but Mother Nature didn’t cooperate. Fall should have heralded the coming of cool weather. Our friend, Jack Frost should have shown his silver locks by the second week of November….nope! Not this year!
I have to admit that many trees in Kingwood actually began a color change toward the end of August – literally thousands of trees in our woods have turned BROWN………….Pines, Elms, Oaks, Sycamores and many more. Wherever you look, our once lush and green woods are mottled with the brown specter of dying or in many cases,  dead trees. On December 3rd, while driving to the airport I began to notice a hint of Fall color creeping into the Kingwood forest palette. The hint of color is helping to ease the blight of the dead and dying brown trees that have been so horribly dominant during this never-ending summer of 2011.
From the perspective of the backyard vegetable patch this drought has been a mixed blessing. The warm weather vegetables have produced deep into the Fall calendar months. This week Jack Frost finally brought his icy caress to my backyard. His cold fingers finally put down my cucumbers,  pole beans, peppers, the sole remaining tomato plant….thank you! Now I can clear those beds and prep them for the next guests. Hallelujah …. it looks like the touch of frost is beginning to turn the asparagus ferns brown – it is about time! The root crowns have surely stored enough energy to overwhelm me with tender and tasty spears next spring.
The root crops are beginning to bless my table. The picture below was taken with my iPhone…. it seems to be an odd pairing, turnips and cucumbers…. Come on Mother Nature….this is just a little too far out of whack! Sometimes I do worry that this may become the new norm. The new challenge for all of us backyard growers may be to learn some new tricks and to change our practices….. change is or can be a good thing – be patient and receptive Bishop, it will be good!

Yes Virginia, Turnips and Cucumbers can Co-exist!