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Mulchfest’s evergreens to make Queens ever green

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Though the numbers were still being counted, the Parks Department said citywide more than 12,000 trees were recycled this year, already besting the total from last year. A Parks Department spokeswoman said Queens, however, was not the greenest borough in the city since Brooklyn and Manhattan both recycled more trees during the weekend event.Mulchfest has been held every year since 1995 as a means of making use of Christmas trees that are often seen tossed on the curb once the caroling and gift giving season subsides. The city puts the recycled trees through wood chippers to create mulch that is then used on parks and green spaces around the five boroughs. A total of eight park recycling locations were open in Queens Saturday or Sunday, seven of which offered residents the ability to bring a bag to cash in on the gardening goodies. The prospect of free mulch was enough to get Abigail Davidson, a north Flushing resident, to lug her now naked Christmas pine down to Kissena Park. "I'm all for the saving the environment green stuff and everything, but I'm a gardener. Free mulch is free mulch," Davidson said with a laugh. For residents that still have their Christmas trees, the Sanitation Department will be making curbside collections and transporting them to recycling sites through Jan. 16. Last Thursday Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe announced the annual event at the home of the city's most famous tree, Rockefeller Center, where they touted the event's environmental consciousness and helped send some branches from the site's tree through a wood chipper. "Mulchfest is another way New Yorkers can help make the city a greener and greater place," Bloomberg said. "By recycling the trees we can't plant we are helping the Million Trees NYC initiative by providing mulch to keep newly planted trees, parks and green spaces healthy and beautiful." Wood chip mulch moderates soil temperatures, helps retain soil moisture and deters weed growth while slowly adding nutrients to the soil. Wood chips can be used to line street tree pits and flowerbeds in parks, or in home gardens to enrich soil and control weeds. Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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