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Christmas tree mulch can help your garden beds

Tracey FitzgibbonQ. We took our Christmas tree for recycling to the Ladera Golf Course like you suggested. It was so easy! Anyway, there was a pile of the mulch near the trucks, and we asked the crew what they were going to do with that pile. They said that it was available for us to take home. Our question is, what would we use it for? It sure does smell good! – H.W., Albuquerque

A. There are a couple of things you can do with this raw material. First, if you have a big vegetable garden, you can spread a stout layer of the pine chippings all along the paths between the veggie rows.

This can do two things. One, it can suppress weeds. With a thick-enough layer, few if any weed seeds below the chippings would be able to germinate. Two, you could use it as a mulch in any moat surrounding trees, shrubs, or roses.

Also, piled thickly enough, the clippings could help reduce evaporation from the plant life. Now I will caution you that you will want to “fluff” up the chippings every so often, making sure that the plant life is still getting the periodic watering you are supposed to be offering through our dormant season.

Then, because the chippings are so raw, they’ll rob nutrients from the soil as they break down into a more usable mulch in the soil. So you’ll need to be sure the plants surrounded by the chippings aren’t robbed of the fertilizers they’ll need.

One other use would be in a compost pile. My biggest concern there would be is maintaining enough heat and adequate moisture to break down the raw chippings in the pile to make compost.

But you are right that the mulch smells great, and with the occasional piece of tinsel peeking through, it can be quite cheerful.

You will want to take your own containers, spade and a strong back if you decide to pick up some of the chippings for use at your home.

Also, remember that the tree recycling event for the Albuquerque area goes through Jan. 12 at one of three locations: Ladera Golf Course, Montessa Park Convenience Center and Eagle Rock Convenience Center will accept your tree from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

You could be a helpful member of the community and take up to five trees at a time to be recycled.

Just remember, PLEASE, to tie down your load while you’re transporting since it’s a bad thing to be playing “dodge-tree” on the freeway! The trees, having given you their all, are extremely light and can be blown out of a truck bed easily, so please, tie them down while you are taking them to be recycled. Thanks for keeping Albuquerque and the surrounding area tidier.

Q. I planted an amaryllis bulb the beginning of December, and it’s still just sitting there. What’s up? – G.L., Albuquerque

A. First, I’d suggest you make sure the bulb isn’t squishy. Where the neck of the bulb connects to the round of the bulb, push on it to be sure the bulb is still solid, so to speak.

If the bulb is still firm, you’ll want to change one of three things or a combination to prompt the bulb to wake up. Change the heat, light and water. See if moving to a warmer spot does the trick. More bright light could be the needed trigger. Make sure the soil is kept adequately damp too. A dry, cool bulb is one that’ll sit still for sure. Change the way you’re tending the bulb, and as long as it’s still firm, there’s hope for it yet.

Happy New Year while you’re out there Diggin’ In!

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to