Nothin'll Grow There
Except Peanut Butter and Bird Seed!!!

Nancy M. Delcher
Carroll County Master Gardener

After all the hoopla of Christmas, there is usually Christmas leftovers - namely the tree and the wreath and the greens. Unfortunately these items aren't edible or I would have had them for dinner along with the standard turkey and smashed taters. We can still use them for our bird buddies. I would have included small rodents but they're on my you-know-what list right now for stealing birdseed and tunneling under the air conditioner.

Don't take these lovely dried up items to the landfill. Use them as decorative birdfeeders and protection. It's going to snow, I know it is. Dead trees provide some protection for small birds. You can also prop the tree up - put it in an old bucket making sure there's drainage, use rocks to support it (don't tell me you don't have extra rocks - you live in Carroll County) - or - tie it loosely to an existing live tree or trellis or pole. Decorate it with bird treats - suet bells and bars, pinecones dipped in peanut butter and birdseed, dried fruit, etc. What about those popcorn strings your kids wanted to make but never ate? It can actually look nice if you do it right (and you don't have to be Martha Stewart). If you don't use tinsel (horrible stuff) to begin with, you won't have to pick every strand off in order to make it safe for the birds.

One year I took the wreath off the front door when it started to lose its needles and I used small pine cones tied to the wreath that I had smeared with peanut butter and bird seed. I hung it on a nail on a tree out front - the little birds and especially small woodpeckers loved it. It was fun to watch the little guys - they're so pretty they look like live wreath decorations. I did remove all the human decorations - the bow, the jingle bells, and the battery-powered lights!

The squirrels and chipmunks are another story - I gave up and bought the squirrels their own feeder. It cost $4.95 at Walmart and seems to be worth it. They spend all their time with their butts up in the air, upside down, retrieving little nuggets of corn and peanuts. And, they've given up on the bird feeders! I have found that squirrels don't like safflower seed but chipmunks aren't as picky. For that, I have a cat.

Of course you can always do other useful things with leftover and dying Christmas greenery - mulch! Either chip it up or just cut the branches to use for protecting your sensitive plants. You can make a pile of the branches in a corner of your yard and let whatever wants to live there. One thing you don't want to do is burn this stuff in your fireplace - these sappy trees cause creosote buildup, a potential fire hazard. It's also not a nice idea to compost your poinsettias - just in case you have enough of them to make your compost pile a hazardous waste dump! Save the dirt and dump the plant. Have a great post-holiday time - it's the best time of year, when all the human demands of the holidays have passed - do something nice for your feathered and furry friends, even those nasty little chipmunks.

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