20 December 9, 2009
For some people, it may have been a few years since they have had a real Christmas tree in their home.There had been a shift towards using artificial trees. With the economy in a bit of turmoil, tradition feels comforting and many people are going back to using a real tree.
There always seems to be some concern that using a real tree is somehow environmentally unsound. People have this picture of loggers going into the woods and cutting down all the smaller trees to sell as Christmas trees. If this were true, you would be very disappointed in how the tree would look. All of the trees that you see sold as Christmas trees are trees that are grown on tree farms. Trees are planted when they are less than a foot high. The trees are fertilized and cultivated to prevent weed growth. As the trees get taller, they are pruned to shape the tree and to give the tree a fuller appearance. In roughly 6 to 8 years, the tree is ready to harvest. The tree is cut and shipped to Christmas tree lots. The following spring, the stump is removed and a new tree planted in the spot where the tree was harvested the previous season. The cycle continues year after year. As you can see, Christmas trees are a crop grown specifically for planting, harvesting and planting again. In many cases, trees are grown on land that won’t sustain other crops. The trees provide homes for wildlife and the trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air. If your fear of buying a real tree is that it is an environmentally unsound thing to do, hopefully I have convinced you otherwise.
In our area, there are many chose and cut tree farms where you can pick out your tree, cut the tree and bring it home. At our store, we bring in trees from New Hampshire, Quebec, North Carolina and Michigan. This allows us to offer you a wider variety of different trees.
Once you bring your tree home, you need to keep the tree in a stand that holds a gallon of water. If you have a small tree, a stand that holds half a gallon is OK. Larger trees may need a stand that holds more water. We have these appropriately sized stands at the store. It is very important that you cut off about 1 inch from the base of the trunk before you set the tree into the stand. This fresh cut allows the tree to take up water. Trees can take up a gallon of water per day! It is important that you check the water level in the tree stand each day and fill the stand with water as needed. If the water level falls below the fresh cut, the tree will seal off that cut and you will need to put a fresh cut on the base to get the tree to take up water again. I guess that I don’t need to tell you how much fun that can be with a fully decorated tree. The water that the tree takes up is water that eventually evaporates out through the needles. Keeping enough water in the stand helps to prevent the needles from drying out.
There are additives that you can put into the water that will help the tree to take up more water. The commonly sold product is called Prolong. You mix this with the water that you pour into the stand.
You can also spray the tree with an anti-desiccant spray. This will coat the needles and cut down the moisture loss through the needles by about 50 %.
Having a real tree is a very nostalgic thing for many people. It also helps to provide jobs and to preserve farmland. Hopefully, this column will convince you that having a real tree is the thing to do this year.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.