Saturday, June 15, 2013

Christmas Trees as Mulch

When we first moved here, we bought some would chips from a guy that collected Christmas trees and chipped them up.  That gave me an idea that I executed on last Christmas.  Some cities have drop off locations for Christmas trees.  My dad stumbled upon one of these locations up by where he lives.  We ended up picking up two, 12 foot trailers worth of trees, about 30 in total.

I paid my stepson to cut the branches off leaving just the trunk of the tree.  The trunks of the trees are 2 to 4 inches thick and narrow down quickly.  I used them as landscaping timbers to line the fences and pathways in the orchard.  They can also be used to hugelkultur beds.

There are many theories on what makes pine trees acidic and if using them as mulch has a large effect on the soil. The theory that I am going with is the green needles are acidic. The trees sat over the winter and into spring, for about 5 months.  Most of the pine needles dried out.  The ones that fell off were thrown in the compost pile.  Ten gallons alone fell off in the trailer during transport.

I tried to chip the dried branches, some with needles on them.  Unfortunately, chipping in a small Craftsman chipper was a pain.  The branches where too flexible, still sappy and were too wide to go down into the chipper.  Then an idea came to me as I was adding more purchased wood chips to put in the orchard.  I laid down cardboard like normal to kill the grass.  Instead of putting the wood chips on top of the cardboard, I laid out the Christmas tree branches instead.  Most of the branches are fairly flat, so they lay down nice.  Then I put the wood mulch on top of the branches.  This cut down the need for some of the wood mulch and allowed for quick use of the Christmas tree branches.

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