In the News

Hickory Hills Serves Up Sweet Rewards


KOLR10 News: November13, 2014

Students at Hickory Hills Elementary had a sweet lunch treat this week. They dined on sweet potatoes that they grew on the roof of their own school. With the help of Master Gardener Kay Johnson, the students planted the sweet potatoes from seed this summer, tended the crop all season, and helped dig up the roots for their special lunch on Thursday. “The kindergarteners will come in kind of shyly, and they find the seed and they get to plant it,” says Mr. Johnson. “Then about two or three weeks later they find a seedling about this high. Then they really get excited.”

Hickory Hills is the first school in the district to be certified in the LEED program, which stands for leadership in energy and environmental design.

Watch the students enjoying their sweet rewards in this clip from local news channel KOLR10 at

Enjoying Autumn: Will It Be Beautiful This Year?

FallLakeAutumn is indeed a beautiful season. We all can remember seeing blazing reds, yellows, and oranges some years and mostly browns and dirty yellows other years. There are many factors involved in the process of leaves changing colors in the fall. The timing of Autumn color change is largely controlled by lengthening nights.

In the fall as some of the nights tend to become a little cooler and the average hours of daylight starts to decrease, the green pigment begins to drain out of the leaves. This green pigment, called chlorophyll, is present in all green plants and is responsible for the absorption of light to provide energy for photosynthesis. The purpose of photosynthesis is to capture and store energy. The food for trees is produced through a complex system starting with the leaves. Leaves produce sugar (which is food for the tree) as a result of photosynthesis which combines carbon dioxide and sunlight. During winter, there is not enough light or water to provide for photosynthesis, so as autumn progresses the tree “knows” to begin getting ready for winter. They begin to shut down their food-making factories. The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves. The trees will rest, and live off the food they stored during the summer.

As the bright green fades away, we begin to see yellow and orange colors. Small amounts of these colors have been in the leaves all along. We just can’t see them in the summer, because they are covered up by the green chlorophyll. The beautiful reds appear when a number of warm, sunny days and cool but not freezing nights come one after the other. In the daytime, the leaves can produce lots of sugar, but the cool night temperatures prevent the sugar sap from flowing through the leaf veins and down into the branches and trunk. Some trees, especially Maples, turn a beautiful brilliant red because more sugars have been trapped in the leaves.

Too much rain, a drought, a warm and wet spell or a severe frost can hinder the
brightness or intensity of autumn colors. It’s time to anticipate a gorgeous autumn when all the right things have happened which are a warm, wet spring followed by a summer that’s not too hot or dry, and a fall with plenty of warm sunny days and cool nights.

Autumn Gardening Tips

Planting Trees

If good horticultural practices are used, trees can be planted any time of the year. Container-grown trees suffer minimal root disturbance during transplanting. If they are carefully watered after planting, trees can be successfully planted even in midsummer.
Bare root trees are generally not available for planting except in their dormant condition, during late winter and early spring. However, research at the University of Missouri has shown that bare root trees can survive summer planting in certain conditions. Bare root trees with up to 2 inches of stem caliper can be planted with excellent survival during the midsummer if preconditioned in a bed of irrigated pea gravel (called the Missouri Gravel Bed) for 10 to 12 weeks. If harvested and stored properly, B&B (balled and burlapped) trees can also be planted at any time of the year. However, since conditions during midsummer are often stressful to plants, most nursery professionals recommend planting in spring or fall. A visit to your local nursery in the fall will enable you to see what Autumn colors the tree will likely display when it is mature.

Herbs on the Go

Herbs on the go!Dig up your rosemary, basil, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, thyme, parsley and chives to grow them inside as house plants. Keep them in a cool, sunny spot, and allow the soil to dry out before watering. Snip off the leaves as needed in the kitchen, but do not strip them completely. For herbs that have grown vigorously through the summer, cut them back about halfway and then dry or freeze the extra harvest or share it with friends. Herb crafts such as lavender soap and sachets are great as gifts.


Watch MU Extension horticulture specialist Patrick Byers as he discusses more tips for making your indoor herb garden a success.

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Little Known Pumpkin Facts

by Kristen Hewitt | Farmers Almanac/Home and Garden

• The word ‘pumpkin’ comes from the Greek word, ‘pepon’, which means a ‘large melon.’
• Pumpkins originated in Central America.
• Pumpkins are actually a fruit. Many people think it should be our national fruit.
• Pumpkin is really a squash. It is in the Curcurbita family along with squash and cucumbers.
• The yellow-orange flowers that bloom on the pumpkin vine are edible.
• Pumpkin seeds taste great roasted and contain medicinal properties.
• Native Americans grew and ate pumpkins and its seeds long before the Pilgrims reached this continent. Pilgrims learned how to grow and prepare pumpkins from the Native Americans.
• Pumpkin was most likely served at the first Thanksgiving feast celebrated by the Pilgrims and the Indians in 1620.
• The earliest pumpkin pie made in America was quite different than the pumpkin pie we enjoy today. Pilgrims and early settlers made pumpkin pie by hollowing out a pumpkin, filling the shell with milk, honey and spices and baking it.
• Early settlers dried pumpkins shells, cut it into strips and wove it into mats.
• Pumpkin has been prepared in a variety of ways from soups to stews to desserts since the immigration of the first European settlers.
• The ‘Pumpkin Capital of the World’ is Morton, Illinois. Home of Libby’s pumpkin industry.
• The state of Illinois grows the most pumpkins. It harvests about 12,300 acres of pumpkins annually.
• Each year, growers compete for the title of growing the world’s largest pumpkin. The largest recorded pumpkin grown was on October 1, 2005 at the Pennsylvania Giant Pumpkin Growers Weighoff. It weighed in at 1,469 pounds, breaking all previous world records. It was grown by Larry Checkon of North Cambria, Penn.
• Pumpkins were formerly considered a remedy for freckles and snakebites.
• Natural medicine practitioners have proven that consuming pumpkin seeds reduces the risk of prostate disorders in men.



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Fun Fact:

“There is definitely a difference between using treated water for irrigating/watering plants versus having Mother Nature do it via rainfall,” says Todd Lassiegne, President and CEO of the Tulsa Botanic Garden.
Why? Nitrogen.
Although it’s a “very, very small amount,” over time the natural water adds a “fertilization effect,” he says.