Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 01-02-2020

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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6 GARDENING JANUARY 2-7, 2020 | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER LIVING EDITION Once your holiday cel- ebrations have passed and the decorations go back into storage, it is time to deal with your real Christmas tree. Don't drag it to the curb to be hauled away by the trash collectors. Give it a second, even third life, in your land- scape. No live Christmas tree? Don't worry! I'm sure your friends and neighbors will share theirs. Start recycling all those needles that landed on the floor. Sweep them up and use them as mulch in the garden. Place them directly on the soil or on top of the snow. As the snow melts, the needles will be right where they belong. And don't worry, they will not make the soil too acidic. In fact, as they breakdown they will add organic matter to the soil. Move your cut Christmas tree outdoors after the holi- days. Use it as a windbreak or for added shade to pre- vent drying of tender ever- greens. Strategically place your discarded tree on the windward side of rhododen- dron, boxwood, and needled or broadleaf evergreens subject to winter burn. Place it on the south side of these plants to shade them from the drying winter sun. Remove and use the branches as winter mulch over bulbs and perennials. Layer the boughs over the plants and frozen soil to keep the soil consistently cold. This reduces the risk of early sprouting and winter damage that can occur during winter thaws. Or set the tree in the landscape for a bit of added greenery. Secure it in a snow pile or use stakes and guy wires if the soil is not fro- zen. Then add a bit of food for your feathered visitors. Decorate the tree with fruits, berries, and seeds the birds can enjoy. Hang strands of cranberries and slices of oranges on colorful yarn and homemade bird ornaments to complete the edible dis- play. The birds will enjoy the added food and shelter and you will enjoy watching these visitors to your landscape. Then save the tree for trel- lising beans and peas in the garden. The vines will grow up and over, masking the bare tree branches. Growing vertically saves space and makes harvesting easier. As spring arrives, consider chipping and shredding your tree into mulch for trees and shrubs or pathways in the landscape. No chipper? You and your neighbors may want to rent a chipper to shred these and other prun- ings for use as mulch in your landscapes. And, if this is not possible, check for recycling resources in your community. Many municipalities have special pickups for Christmas trees. These are chipped, shred- ded and made available for citizens to use in their land- scapes. Always check on any alerts of live Christmas trees and greens shipped in from other regions of the country. These may contain pests that can infest your landscape or harm native plantings and local Christmas tree farms in your area. The Department of Natural Resources or your local extension office should have information on any such threats. They can pro- vide information on proper disposal. And once you discover the value of this free resource, you may find yourself col- lecting a few more from neighbors who buy locally- grown trees. Although, if your family is like mine, they may ask that you wait until dark to drag your treasures back home. Melinda Myers has written numerous books, including "Small Space Gardening." She hosts The Great Courses "How to Grow Anything" DVD series and the nationally-syndicated "Melinda's Garden Moment" TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for "Birds & Blooms" maga- zine and her website is www. MelindaMyers.com . Give Your Christmas Tree a Second Life in the Landscape By MELINDA MYERS PHOTO BY MELINDA MYERS LLC Adding berries, fruit and seeds to your recycled holiday tree pro- vides needed food for the birds to enjoy. Search for owls with the Audubon Society NORTH SMITHFIELD – The Audubon Society of Rhode Island will host an Owl Prowl at Fort Wildlife Refuge, 1443 Providence Pike, on Friday, Jan. 10, from 7 to 9 p.m. Head out with Audubon on a winter night to search for owls. An Audubon naturalist will call for different species as you walk through the for- est. Dress for the weather, wear sturdy walking shoes and bring a flashlight. Hike will be canceled in the event of inclement weather or icy trails. Advance registration is required. The program is open to ages 9 and up. The fee is $10/member; $14/non-member. Register through the events calendar at ww.awsri.org .

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