Composting, mulching makes good use of yard waste

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Autumn is a beautiful time in Kentucky gardens, but it can also be a messy one. The season brings piles of leaves from our trees and spent shoots from our flower beds. 
The way we address this yard waste can have a significant impact on our gardens and the environment. Gardeners commonly rake up and bag leaves to be hauled away to yard waste dumps.
This option, while tidy, uses a lot of energy, both yours and the energy to transport the leaves and mixed garden waste.
Mulching leaves and yard waste is another option. Why not use this bountiful resource to enrich your lawn and garden and create less waste and air pollution?
A very simple technique with leaves is to rake them into a line and mow over them with your lawn mower. 
The mower will chop the leaves into pieces small enough to fall between the blades of grass in your lawn.  The chopped leaves will break down out of sight and provide nutrients to your lawn and improve the quality of your soil.
For larger items like spent flower stalks, composting is a simple, easy and environmentally friendly option.  Proper composting produces no odor and provides you with a generous amount of nutrient-rich organic compost for your garden which reduces or eliminates the need to buy fertilizer.
Composting also eliminates the need to transport garden waste, making composting a triple-win situation for your garden, wallet and the environment. 
The speed of compost production is influenced by the size of the material placed in the bin, so the more you can chop up the garden debris, the quicker you will have usable compost. Many options for compost bin design and construction are well suited to any location and budget. 
Turning leaves into mulch has many benefits. The mulch helps retain moisture in the soil and insulates plants from extreme winter temperatures. The decomposed leaves become an excellent conditioner for warming spring soil helping to attract worms and other beneficial microorganisms.
RiverView Farmers Market
The RiverView Farmers Market will have its end of the season meeting on Thursday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. at the Carroll County Extension Office. Anyone interested in growing for the 2011 market year is invited to attend the meeting.

Ag practices training
Producers needing GAP Training will have the opportunity to receive the training on Thursday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. at the Carroll County Extension Office. The training materials will take some time to cover so it will be a full 2 or 2.5 hours. Those attending will receive their GAP Training certificate. GAP certification is a third party audit of your operation and has a healthy fee associated with the certification.
Taking better holiday
There will a workshop on Saturday, Nov. 20 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Carroll County Extension Office on tips for better holiday pictures. This workshop is similar to the beginning series but will strictly be about composing for better pictures. Bring your camera and be ready for a fun couple of hours. If possible please preregister by calling the Extension Office at 732-7030.
Beef Quality Assurance
We will have a Beef Quality Assurance training that will certify producers that they have an understanding of the processes on their farm that affect beef quality. The certification will be Nov. 22, at 7 p.m. at the Carroll County Extension Office. There is a $5 per producer charge for this certification. If you bring a check make it payable to the Kentucky Beef Network.
Feeding cows this winter
Do you know the feed value of your hay? Several Carroll County producers have made the effort to have their hay tested this year to see what the protein and TDN levels are. Soyhull prices are really high and a ton of hull and corn gluten was about $145. On Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Extension office there will be a meeting to review a pretty simple ration program from Oklahoma. It will show what we can feed with our hay to get our cows through the winter very economically.
Tim Hendrick is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call him at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to thendrick@uky.edu.