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What to do with the Christmas tree

What to do with the Christmas tree

Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 7:23 pm

By LEE REICH For The Associated Press Now, the goodbyes. There’s no rule, of course, about how long to keep a Christmas tree. In many homes, the tree goes out along with the old year. At the very least, it’s time for your tree to go when it starts to dry out. A drying tree will not only look sad and litter your floor with drying needles, but it also can present a fire hazard. Cooler temperatures, however, will prolong your tree’s beauty and slow drying by reducing water loss from the needles. At the same time, keep water flowing into the cut trunk by making sure its base sits in water. A couple of tablespoons of bleach in the water will inhibit the growth of stem-clogging bacteria. When it does come time to dispose of your tree, cut up the branches and lay them on the ground as a decorative and insulating mulch for your flower beds through late winter. Some municipalities will accept trees for shredding. The ground-up trunk, stems and leaves are effective as year-round mulch anywhere in the garden. This mulch looks pretty and keeps the ground moist through next summer. As it decomposes, it will enrich the soil with nutrients and organic matter. A live, potted tree avoids the problem of drying out — as long as you keep it watered. But move it outdoors as soon as you can bring yourself to do so after Christmas. You don’t want the tree indoors so long that it feels spring has arrived and starts growing. Give the tree a good watering and then plant it outdoors, preferably into a hole that you dug and mulched before the ground froze. Anyone who can’t bear to see the end of their Christmas tree will be glad to know that the residents of Christmas, Fla., live up to its name and maintain a year-round, trimmed Christmas tree on the main highway in town. Published in The Messenger 12.30.08

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