Saturday, November 12, 2005

Autumn weather and colors.

My vines have finally noticed that summer is over. The weather is cooling down and dormancy is soon to come. The leaves are turning from green to yellow. They are using the last bit of sun to squirrel away just a little more sugar into the roots. This is energy for next year's head start.

Grapes are funny that way. Their roots have two growth spurts, one at the beginning of the season, and one at the end. In between theses two flairs of growth, they put all of their energy into making sweet little grapes. Only after they are done focusing on their perfect fruit, do they allow themselves to take the last few weeks of sun to prepare for winter. Then they start shutting down, leaves thin out, chlorophyll, which was keeping the leaves green starts to break down with the decrease in sun, leaving compounds that give those autumnal colors. Compounds with funny names like porphyrins, carotenoids, and flavonoids create shades of yellow, blue, burgundy, maroon, brown and red.

Soon, the vines will be completely shut down and dormant. They will be safely sleeping and protected for the winter frosts. Getting a good, long winter sleep before they need to start all over again next year. What a life.