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Thank you, Ward Upham!
Ward has served the department of Horticulture and Natural Resources at Kansas State University since 1996. Ward began the Horticulture Rapid Response Center and has provided thousands of gardeners and extension agents prompt gardening advice over the years. Ward has also been the primary contributor for the weekly K-State Horticulture Newsletter. He has been a valuable resource to our department serving on multiple other projects and has provided a wealth of knowledge to the state as a whole. Congratulations, Ward! We appreciate all your years of service.
Final Newsletter of the Season
This will be the last issue of the Horticulture Newsletter 2023. The first issue of the Horticulture Newsletter 2024 will be distributedthe week of January 8. Your current subscription for the newsletter will continue.
It has been a privilege to join the faculty at K-State and take on the role of writing the weekly Horticulture Newsletter. I appreciate the feedback I’ve received from our readers and encourage you to continue to share story ideas, questions and comments. Your encouraging words and welcome messages are much appreciated, and I look forward to serving you in the new year. Be on the lookout for a survey in an upcoming newsletter to share your experience using the K-State Horticulture Newsletter.
On behalf of all of us at K-State we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. (Cynthia Domenghini)
What to Do With the Christmas Tree After Christmas
After the holidays, many municipalities allow old Christmas trees to be placed curbside. Trees are then collected and ground up for mulch or burned. If you miss the designated date, or your trash collector doesn’t accept trees, there are several options to prolong the useful life of the tree.
An old Christmas tree can be used to benefit birds, fish, and the landscape by placing it in a corner of your deck, and spreading some birdseed nearby, or tying it to a deciduous tree or post near a bird feeder. The birds benefit from having escape cover nearby when hawks or cats threaten, and the dense boughs reduce the wind chill on a cold night.
Sinking your Christmas tree in a pond is an easy way to improve fish habitat and fishing. The tree serves as a coral reef, in that the branches provide substrate for water plants to grow, and cover for minnows and other forms of small aquatic life. Larger fish are drawn by the shade and the presence of prey.
How do you sink a tree? Tie the base to a cinder block with a short, stout rope, and toss it in. Just be sure to get permission from the pond owner first! Using the little tree around the landscape requires clipping off all of the branches. Use the boughs to add extra insulation around semi-hardy perennials or to trees and shrubs that were recently planted. The leftover trunk may be used as a garden stake next spring.
You may also cut and let the tree dry for a few weeks providing some easy lighting firewood. Just beware that most conifer species tend to spark and pop more than hardwoods, as resin pockets in the wood make tiny explosions. This can delight the youngsters, but for safety’s sake, keep an eye on the fire when burning Christmas tree logs! (Charlie Barden)
Storing Fruit and Nut Gifts
Fruits and nuts are traditional gifts during the holiday season. Their shelf life can be extended with a few simple steps.
Nuts should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to avoid water loss. Fats and oils in nuts can spoil and negatively change the flavor. However, even when stored in the refrigerator, the taste of nuts can be altered by strong flavors of other stored products. It is best to store nuts in a tightly sealed plastic container or quality grade resealable plastic bag.
Fruit baskets are often wrapped in cellophane. After gifting or receiving a fruit basket, remove the wrapping to prevent the trapped ethylene gas from speeding up ripening. Tree fruits such as apples, pears, oranges and grapefruit can be stored in the refrigerator or another cool location, ideally around 40 degrees F. Bananas and other tropical fruits (aside from citrus) should be stored separately. (Cynthia Domenghini)
Cynthia Domenghini, Instructor & Horticulture Extension Specialist
Charlie Barden, Extension Forester
Ward Upham, Extension Associate
Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources
1712 Claflin, 2021 Throckmorton
Manhattan, KS 66506
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Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension Work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, as amended. Kansas State University, County Extension Councils, and United States Department of Agriculture Cooperating, Ernie Minton, Dean.