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Julia Laughlin: Repurpose those fall leaves!

Bagging leaves to go to the landfill is a waste of landfill space and a waste of a valuable garden resource. Instead of bagging them and hauling them off this year, consider these suggestions.

You can simply rake fall leaves onto perennial beds as a nice winter mulch. Sometimes heavy leaf mulches may suffocate your plants, but use your good judgment. Small leaves generally will not offer any threat, but huge leaves, such as sycamore, might cause problems.

You also can mow over them as often as necessary before they build up too deep. The chopped leaves return valuable organic matter and nutrients to the soil. If you use a mower with a bag attachment you can capture the chopped leaves and then distribute them as an excellent mulch, compost additive, or they can be worked into your vegetable garden.

If you have a large amount of leaves, you may consider buying or renting a leaf shredder or a vacuum-shredder. Vacuum-shredders suck up the leaves, chop them and then collect them into a bag. Once leaves are shredded, you can then use them as described above. Remember, however, that shredders, blowers and choppers work well only when the leaves are nice and dry. If leaves are wet, they can clog your equipment.

Another great choice is to place them in the compost pile, along with other garden plant material. You don’t need a special compost bin to accomplish this process. A big hole dug behind the garage or some other inconspicuous place works nicely. Fill the hole with lots of leaves and other garden plant material and cover with soil. Or create a compost pile and use them as the “carbon” or brown layer. The OSU Fact Sheet HLA 6448 “Backyard Composting in Oklahoma” is helpful and can be found at osufacts.okstate.edu.

Winter workshop

If you would like to get ready in advance for all your winter landscape and gardening tasks, join us for the “What about Winter?” workshop from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nov. 15.

This workshop is a winter gardening and cooking class for all skill levels and will cover a variety of topics, including winter landscaping tips such as how to create winter interest in your landscape; how to use materials from your landscape to decorate for the holidays; winter lawn care tips and irrigation system maintenance during the winter months; and how to extend the season for vegetable gardens, as well as getting an early start on the spring season.

You also will learn when and how to prune or train landscape plants during the winter months.

This workshop also will feature a seasonal produce winter recipe cooking demonstration with a food tasting and a take-home seasonal recipe collection. The first 100 registered participants for the workshop will receive a complimentary 2020 “Four Seasons Living” calendar, which will include seasonal recipes, plus timely horticulture and Earth-friendly conservation tips to keep you one step ahead in your outdoor chores all year.

This workshop is part of the “Four Seasons Living” educational workshop series provided by the OSU Oklahoma County Extension Service and will be at the Oklahoma County Extension Center at 2500 NE 63. The workshop is free, but you must pre-register by calling 713-1125 during business hours or register online at https://whataboutwinter.eventbrite.com. For more information, go to oces.okstate.edu/oklahoma.

Email Julia Laughlin, Oklahoma County Extension Horticulture Educator at julia.laughlin@okstate.edu .

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