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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Recycled Christmas Tree

Christmas trees shouldn't be thrown out.   If you have space, they have many uses.  When I was growing up in Charleston, West Virginia my friends and I would gather up bunches of discarded Christmas trees, haul them back to my front yard where my parents encouraged play more than neatness. The trees would then be piled up into a fort.  The fort could be used for snowball battles, but usually it was just a place to play.  Most of the fun was in dragging the trees down the street and actually building the fort. My parents, then would be left with the job of deciding enough was enough then letting the city sanitation department haul the trees to wherever they took them.
These days I don't get to build many forts. (though I'm not saying it wouldn't be fun.) Our Christmas tree still  gets reused.  Usually I take it out to my garden and let it begin decomposing in a spot that needs acid.  I carefully laid the tree over a young azalea or rhododendron that needed protection from deer and rabbit nibbles. The needles then fall off the Christmas tree, covering the ground around the acid-loving azalea while keeping the deer away from the young plant.  If the deer were hungry, they could nibble on the trees needles for a bit of vitamin C. As these same needles fall off and decay they add acid to the ground around the plant.
The tree also makes good cover for the birds.  This year I have left my tree on the ground near the bird feeder. It makes a nice wind-break for the ground feeding birds such as these cardinals.
If you look closely at the ground around the tree, you can see piles of shells of black oil sunflower seeds. The shells have been dropped by birds that sit in the sugar maple above, cracking open the seeds. They have evidently dropped uneaten seeds and parts of seeds,  for there seems to be plenty to eat off the ground beside my old Christmas tree for this cardinal couple.
We have had snow on the ground since I first put the tree out until the day I took these photographs.  I guess it is time to take the tree out into my garden to let its needles continue into its immortality leaving a small spot in my garden a bit more acidic.

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