Gardening Projects for the Holidays

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
Many of us of are fortunate enough to have an opportunity over the next two weeks to have an extra vacation day or two at our disposal. In some cases, we might even have family or friends in for the holidays, often times languishing around the dinner table or the television in need of something constructive to do. If you find yourself in this position and the weather cooperates, here are a few ideas for some gardening projects.

If you already have a compost pile, this is the perfect opportunity to turn it and boost it with food preparation scraps. While it is theoretically possible to compost almost all kitchen waste, adding meat and dairy to the compost pile is generally discouraged as these foods tend to attract rodents and other animals. Also, it takes a little more dedication to maintaining a temperature in the pile high enough to properly break down these materials.

If you don’t already have a compost pile, now is a great time to start one, especially with all the leaves laying around waiting to make a contribution. Don’t overlook those that have built up in your gutters as they are usually nice and wet and will help provide moisture critical to the composting process.

Have you considered adding a new or expanding a flower bed? Now would be a fairly good time to dig out bermuda grass rhizomes. I say fairly because it is virtually impossible to get all the bermudagrass out on the first attempt. Removing the majority of it now will give you a realistic chance of staying ahead of it when greenup begins this spring.

Now is also a good time to get your vegetable garden cleaned up if you have failed to do so. Squash bugs were public enemy number one for our area this year. Removing the remaining plant litter will reduce the opportunity for some of these pesky insects to overwinter. While it would be a mistake to assume this will eliminate squash bug issues, it will help give your garden a fighting chance.

This would also be a good time to transplant any woody deciduous trees. While this can be difficult for a homeowner and success is not guaranteed, winter is the best time of the year to attempt it. If you do move a tree, make sure you mulch and water it in thoroughly after transplanting. Continue to water it as needed, especially towards the end of the winter as the tree begins to take up additional water to support the new leaves.

For more information on this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at
keith.reed@okstate.edu, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.

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