When Christmas is over, it’s time for cleaning

December 26, 2012 

To me the song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” helps to sum up the Christmas season. The time after Christmas can also be a blessed time with family and friends, but cleanup after the celebration can be difficult.

I like to help clean up after Christmas. I “clean up” all the desserts I can plus the foods I like -- turkey, dressing and macaroni and cheese. I leave the eggnog, cranberry sauce and giblet gravy for others to clean up. Because I often get fishing tackle as a present, I also spend time cleaning up my tackle box. I never can tell when I may have to make an emergency fishing trip.

Cleaning up means different things to different people. When it comes to cleaning up after Christmas, here are a few things we all need to know.

Christmas trees do not have to be thrown away. Natural Christmas trees can be recycled in many ways. They can be chipped into mulch, anchored in the bottom of lakes for fish structure and placed in rural or natural areas as cover for wildlife. Before you put them into lakes or in other areas, make sure you have permission and that you are placing them properly and safely. For instance, it takes the proper amount of anchorage to sink a tree. Placing the trees from a boat can also be dangerous. Conduct a little research before you start. This article may help: http://tinyurl.com/bra5ryz.

On Jan. 5 between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., the Keep Warner Robins Beautiful Commission and Flint Energies are sponsoring a Christmas tree roundup. Take all the tinsel and ornaments off your tree and bring it to Maple Street in Warner Robins (under the water tower near City Hall). You will receive a seedling tree in return for your tree. You can bring trees earlier than this, but they are only giving away seedling trees Jan. 5. Collected trees are recycled into mulch and fish habitat in lakes: http://tinyurl.com/c65e5af.

Macon also has a tree recycling program sponsored by the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission, The Telegraph, Georgia Power and Advance Disposal -- Bring One for the Chipper at Central City Park on Jan. 5. For details, see http://tinyurl.com/cccv8m2.

Although I do not need it as an excuse to kiss my pretty wife, I still like mistletoe. However, mistletoe is not very useful after Christmas. Mistletoe grows as a parasite on trees. It robs trees of water and nutrients, weakening the tree. Winter is a great time to clean up unwanted mistletoe.

Mistletoe attached to a tree grows a haustorium inside the tree branch. This haustorium is like a root that allows the mistletoe to rob nutrients and water from the tree.

The best way to remove mistletoe is to cut off the branch that the mistletoe is growing on. Cut off the branch at least 14 inches below the place where the mistletoe is attached. This also removes the haustorium and prevents re-growth. Cut off limbs at the point where the limb branches off from another branch. Do not leave stubs when you prune.

Merely breaking the mistletoe off will not kill the mistletoe. About 80 percent of the time the mistletoe will grow back in one to three years. However, if you break off the mistletoe every year, you will help reduce the problem some. As soon as you remove the mistletoe, the tree immediately gets some relief, even if it is temporary.

A difficult part of cleaning up is discarding your poinsettia. Yes, they will grow as houseplants in the winter and even form nice green outdoor plants in the summer. The problem is that poinsettias are not cold-hardy (They must be brought back inside in the winter) and they only bloom if they are given the proper day and night lengths at the proper time. It is so much easier just to buy a new poinsettia next year. Other holiday plants like amaryllis, holiday cactus and ornamental peppers make good houseplants.

After you clean up, head out to the Go Fish Education Center in Perry for some special fishing Wednesday and Thursday.

Willie Chance works with the University of Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture.

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