The Hort Report: Ideas on what to do with trees or wreaths once Christmas season is finished

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You can put your Christmas tree or wreath once you are done with it a pond in the wintertime before the water freezes over. | Photo courtesy of Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Merry Christmas to everyone from Laura, Hillary, Sandra and me. This is a time of year to remember that Jesus was born to save us all. You should spend time celebrating the birth of Jesus with your family.

Spring must be around the corner, because the South Shelby Adult Vo-Ag Class is starting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, at the South Shelby Vo-Ag Classroom. Each class will be three hours long and held every Tuesday until April 30. 

The class is a chance for you to start and raise your vegetables and flowers. The class is set up to spend about half of the class time in the classroom and the other in the South Shelby greenhouse, starting and growing plants. 

Topics to be covered in the class include are: 

  • Greenhouse design.
  • Planting dates for starting seeds and transplanting seedlings you grew.
  • Taking cuttings from various plants so you can have new ones.
  • Soil structure and growing media for gardens, yards and flowerbeds.
  • Fertilization of plants using organic and inorganic water-soluble and dry types. 
  • Overseeding and making new lawns and maintenance of them.
  • Insect ID beneficial and harmful and how to control them.
  • Pesticide types, dry and liquid safety, handling and proper equipment
  • ID plant diseases, what plants they harm and how to treat the disease.
  • Landscaping design, plant selection, placement and maintenance of all the plants, grass, trees, shrubs and bushes in the landscape you have designed.

Other topics will be determined by class members.

Each week at the beginning of class there will be time for questions about anything dealing with horticulture topics. If I don’t have the answer for the question asked. I will have it at the beginning of the next class. This is great way for both the class and myself to learn more about horticulture. 

A fee will be charged for the class to help cover supplies used in the class. You will only need to pay for any plants you remove from the greenhouse, based on the container and soil per container used and taken home. 

Want to know more about the class? Call me at 573-588-2040. You can also just show up the first night of class Jan. 9.

Many of you with a live Christmas tree or wreath may not know what to do with them once the Christmas season is over. I have a few ideas on what you can do with them once you are done with them.

You can use them as a place for birds to use as a resting place during cold windy winter nights. We will place the Christmas tree into a bush, shrub or next to a corner post in the yard. We will set the tree in a location where we think it will do the most good. 

In the spring of the year, once the new growth of the bushes and shrubs starts their new growth, we remove the Tree and use it somewhere else. 

You can also use your Christmas tree and wreath to help stop a ditch from getting too big. The tree can help stop the flow of dirt. Place the top tip of the tree into the flow of water. When you do this, the flow of water and dirt will flow into the tree and begin to rest in the branches. The flow of water and dirt causes the branches to open up wide. It will force the branches to bend backward and stop more dirt. 

You can also put the Christmas wreath in the ditch. This will stop water and dirt as it flows down the ditch, helping to stop it from washing out more. 

Another place you can put your Christmas tree or wreath once you are done using it is a pond in the wintertime before the water freezes over. Make sure to have it close to the edge of the pond. This will allow the water as it freezes to get in among the branches. The branches will help to get air down into the pond during the winter, thus helping the fish survive. 

You can use your old Christmas tree and wreath in a compost pile. Put them at the bottom of the pile, then put everything you want to compost on top of them. Having them in the bottom of the compost pile will help to allow air to move up through the compost pile, helping the compost in the pile decompose faster and allow you to use it sooner. 

You can put the Christmas Tree in a woodchipper if you have one to create wood chips and sawdust that you can use as mulch. Let it sit and decompose for several months because the wood chips and sawdust will have a lot of acid in them. 

Use freshly made wood chips and sawdust as a covering, like making paths in your garden. You can spread them over the garden or flowerbed after they have been used for a year.  

Thursday, Dec. 21 at 9:27 p.m. is the Winter Solstice or the December Solstice. The first day of winter can be either Dec. 21 or 22. This is one of the best days of the year because the daylight hours start to get longer, and the first day of spring is only 90 days away.

The sun starts its long journey moving back into the northern hemisphere. You will notice how the sun starts to rise farther to the north in the east each morning, then setting farther to the north in the west too. 

This movement of the sun to the north will continue until June 20 at 3:50 p.m. in Northeast Missouri — the Summer Solstice and the first day of summer. The sun will be at its highest point in the northern sky. This will be the day with the longest amount of daylight hours in the day of the year.

As we begin to have longer daylight hours, we start thinking more about the new growing season. This will help you feel better, too. You can start to think about an early spring garden, too. 

When I was young, I remember my grandparents Pete and Jessie May would talk about how they would have an early spring garden. They would make it in the ash pile on the east side of the old farmhouse at the home place in Lakenan. They mixed the wood ash with manure and dirt, then got straw bales or maybe wood and built a frame around the mix, placing an old window frame with the glass still in it over the ash wood mix. 

The glass in the window frame on top of the box was built around the wood ash mix. It will allow the wood ash mix to start to heat up. Once this starts, you can plant cool season early maturing vegetables. 

Jessie May talked about how she would start to plant vegetables sometime as early as the middle of January. I will be write more about this in a future Hort Report. 

I appreciate all your questions in the past and look forward to them in the future. If you have any questions, contact me at 573-588-2040 at Shelby County Implement in Shelbina, Mo. Better yet, come out and see me. I enjoy just having people coming up to me anytime they see me to ask a question about any type of horticulture issue or problem you are having.

Have a blessed and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Spend time with your family and friends during this time of year, but don’t forget the reason for the season. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, who was born to save us all.

Pat Greenwell is the owner of Shelby County Implement in Shelbina, Mo. He was a high school agriculture teacher for 11 years. He has taught adult vocational agriculture since 1987. He also is a research assistant at the Truman State University Ag Department Farm. 

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