Recycle Christmas Greenery
Bless my brother, he didn't even ask why almost as soon as I got back into town, I was texting him from the recycling center. I was curious how many people would be recycling Christmas greenery. Did you know that 75% of what is hauled off to landfills could be recycled? A good percentage of recyclables are easily compostable materials such as Christmas trees, leaves and kitchen scraps.
My brother has started composting. He told me he was amazed at how quickly he has less in his garbage. He started by saving kitchen scraps in a plastic bag stored in the top freezer drawer for easy access. When the bag is full, he takes it outside to a handy composter sitting next to his garage. I suggested he could also bury it in holes in his garden but he lives in northern Minnesota; his garden is frozen seven months out of the year. On the other hand, he's proud to report they have one of the lowest crime rates in the country so there's something to be said about living in tundra conditions.
Besides kitchen scraps, live Christmas trees and other greenery can also easily be recycled, even if it is cold. After removing all decorations, including tinsel:
- Pull off or cut off tree branches and boughs to cover roses and other tender plants, if you haven't already. The best time to mulch is after the first hard frost. Mulch is basically a blanket to maintain soil temperature around plants. With our ever-fluctuating temperatures, it's even more important now to make sure plants have consistent soil temperature so they can maintain their winter dormancy. Trees that are particularly affected by fluctuating temperatures, and should also be mulched, include cherries and Japanese maples.
- If you have a pond, tie a rock to the denuded tree and sink it in your pond. It will provide a nursery area and good cover for baby fish and tadpoles.
- Place the tree in a corner where birds can use it for protection. One year, we "planted" one of our live cedar trees back in the yard with pinecones with peanut butter and strings of popcorn. It was highly entertaining to watch all of the wildlife that made use of that tree for the rest of winter, especially song birds and wild turkeys. Once wild turkeys discovered the popcorn strings, they spent several days working them out of the tree. I can still remember them walking off, dragging popcorn strings behind them.
If you are more interested in wood chips, most recycling centers allow local residents to haul off wood chips for free. Wood chips make great cover for walking paths and, once dry, are great for mulching flower beds and trees.
Smaller trees like cut cedars work well as outside brooms to clear off paths.