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Xmas trees

Jim Boxberger - Columnist
Posted 12/10/20

Now that Thanksgiving is over all eyes turn to Christmas and that all important Christmas tree. If you are putting up the artificial tree again this year then this column will be of no use to you, …

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Xmas trees

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Now that Thanksgiving is over all eyes turn to Christmas and that all important Christmas tree. If you are putting up the artificial tree again this year then this column will be of no use to you, but if you are going to have a live tree this year then read up.

First I will go over the basics for fresh cut Christmas trees. The key to having a safe Christmas tree is to choose one that is fresh and has been properly stored, then keep it that way.

Fresh Christmas trees that are kept watered will not combust easily and make sure that you cut some of the tree trunk off before placing in your tree stand so that water can be easily absorbed.

The best varieties are Fraser Fir, Douglas Fir, Noble Fir, Scotch Pine, Balsam Fir and White Pine. These last longer and remain fresh much longer than other varieties. Choose a tree that has been stored properly out of wind and in a shady location.

Trees stored out in the wind and sun are drier and will lose needles more easily. Trees should also not be packed too tightly together to avoid broken branches. Once you've found a tree you like, check it for freshness by taking the following steps. Shake the tree gently, looking for falling exterior needles.

Don't be alarmed if some of the older, more interior needles fall as this is normal. Check individual needles for freshness by breaking off a needle near the end of a branch. If it snaps when you bend it, the tree is too dry. If the tree is fresh, the needle should bend slightly without breaking.

Make sure your tree is tightly wrapped in netting for the trip home, especially if you are tying it to the top of your car. This will prevent the speed-created winds from drying it out.

It is important to choose the location in which your tree will be displayed carefully. Avoid setting up your tree near heat vents, fireplaces and windows. These all create either heat or draughts which can dry your tree and make it lose its freshness.

A cooler corner of a room is most preferable. This will help to reduce water loss from the tree stand and prolong the freshness of the tree. The tree stand is also very important too. It should hold at least a gallon of water at all times to prevent drying of the tree.

During the first week, a fresh cut Christmas tree can soak up 12 to 14 gallons of water per day, that's right per day. After the first week, the water consumption rate drops dramatically to 3 to 7 gallons over the next 4 weeks.

When decorating your fresh cut tree, new L.E.D. mini lights are safer than regular mini lights because they produce much less heat and use less electricity. Take the decorations off the tree and take the tree out of the house as soon as possible after the holidays are over. Real Christmas trees are completely biodegradable. Most municipal landfills chip them for use as mulch.

Besides fresh cut trees you can also get a live Christmas tree. Your live tree will come to you either with its roots wrapped in burlap or in a biodegradable container or pot.

To help you care for your tree during the holidays and then plant it on your property successfully when the holidays are over, follow these helpful tips: Once you get it home, store your tree on a porch or in the garage. The area should be unheated yet sheltered from wind and sun.

Avoid exposing a living Christmas tree to freezing temperatures as this will put the tree into dormancy mode. Provide adequate water for your new tree by keeping the root ball or soil slightly damp.

Do not flood the tree with water. Before bringing the tree into the house, wrap the root ball in plastic sheeting or place it in a plastic tub. Decorate your living tree carefully. If you use lights, make sure that they do not give off any heat, L.E.D. lights are best for live trees.

After the holidays, return your tree to its sheltered place for a few days to let it acclimate to the cold once more before planting it. Never take a live tree into freezing temperatures directly from the warm house. Doing so will shock the tree and may cause severe damage to it. Replant the tree in unfrozen ground.

Prior to frosts, the spot to be dug may be covered in a layer of mulch to prevent its freezing. Plant your tree as soon as possible after its acclimation to the cold. To keep the root ball secure, do not remove the burlap or string strapping.

If the strapping is plastic or metal, remove it and leave just the burlap. If your tree is in a plastic container, tap the bottom of the pot and gently loosen and remove the tree. If the container is biodegradable, leave the tree in it.

Do not remove any soil from around the root system as this may cause damage to the roots. Place your tree in its hole. Use the soil removed from the hole to backfill in around the root ball. Add a thick layer of mulch over the top of the filled hole to prevent the root ball from freezing.

Besides helping the economy, live and fresh cut trees help the environment. Christmas tree growers benefit the environment in a number of ways. Each acre of Christmas trees produces enough oxygen per day for the needs of 18 people.

Trees cleanse the air of carbon dioxide CO2 and other pollutants. With everyone talking about their carbon footprint, fresh cut Christms trees reduce your footprint, while artificial trees will add to your footprint.

For a Christmas tree farmer to harvest each year, only 10% of the trees on the farm are cut in any given year because it takes 10 years for a tree to reach a retail height of 6 feet. This means 90% of the land of Christmas tree farms is always planted in trees.

The trees are havens for many species of birds, small mammals and other wildlife too. So take a look at fresh trees this holiday season.

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