Sunday, January 17, 2016

Recycling a Christmas Tree

Plant nurseries and other businesses are inviting people to mulch and recycle their Christmas tree instead of tossing it to the curb for the trash truck to collect. 

Christmas tree being reclaimed for fire kindling
Recycling a Christmas tree for kindling

I went one further with my tree this year. I chunked the branches and twigs off and set them aside for kindling and potpourri. 

I know it might be a little late for this year's tree to be reclaimed, but here is a great tip for next year. After I stripped my tree down, I set the small sized branches away in boxes and stored them out of the way so they do not get wet. They are an excellent way to start up a fire and the smoke from the burning needles and twigs is terrific. 

The smell of a live tree is amazing. The scent is earthy and sweet and picking one out is indeed a favorite moment of the season. Decorating them carefully and watching them twinkle in the twilight brings comfort and amazement. It is the reason I insist on not investing in an artificial tree for the holidays. This year was my first tree in almost a decade and I thoroughly enjoyed its presence. It was a joy to behold as I trimmed it with glittery things and sweet favors.

Recycling a Christmas Tree for Kindling

Fiskars Traditional Bypass Pruning Shears

This project requires a pair of gardening or work gloves and a small pair of pruning shears. A small saw or cutting tool that can handle the trunk cuts will be needed as well. 

I allowed my tree to rest and dry completely on the back patio before I trimmed it down. When the smaller twigs break away from the trunk easily it is time to remove all the branches from the tree trunk. I began trimming from the top section and wove down through the front side facing me until I had a good sized slot down the length of the tree. Once a large enough gap has been opened in the dried foliage the job gets easier and faster. 

Cut all twigs down to about 10" and place them in a holding container. A box or plastic tub will work fine. I may later set choice twigs away in storage bags for the scented potpourri, but for now the project is complete. I still need to cut the trunk down. I will do so when time allows. The cuts can be any length provided they fit neatly in the coal area of a fireplace or fire pit. Place about six to ten twigs in the fire staging area when beginning a fire. They should ignite easily and allow a log placed above to catch easily.

Save the bottom length of trunk for your next year's Yule Log. This piece would start the Christmas fire for the 12 days of Christmas as tradition states. You could also drill holes in it and use it as a decorative candle holder. Accent the log with trimmings taking care not to allow flame to touch the decor. 

Reclaim that tree and send it back to the earth in flame. Rekindle that tree's memory in a flickering fire and continue to enjoy it. When the fire dies down and the coals have all cooled the ashes may be placed back in the garden area as potash. 

Please, please, be cautious always when working around open fire.