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Just after Thanksgiving and for the next two weekends, it will be the busiest time to purchase a Christmas tree. Early shoppers will pick from the best available trees on lots or in fields.
Locally, it is difficult to find a choose and cut operation. For our area, it usually means going to a tree lot to select a tree that has already been cut and shipped into our area.
It doesn’t really matter where or how you buy the tree. What really matters is how you know which tree is best for you. There are a number of things to consider, such as: space requirements, budget, how fresh the tree is, how to transport the tree home and how are you going to get it into the stand and into the house?
The Fraser fir is the most popular choice for our area. You will also find a variety of pines and perhaps some cedar trees available. No matter where or how the tree is obtained, the Christmas tree experience will be more enjoyable if the tree selected is the appropriate species, is the proper size, is clean and fresh, and is provided the proper care during the holiday season and disposed of in an effective manner once the holiday is over.
The oldest record of a cut Christmas tree decorated in today’s tradition is reported in a travel diary from 1605, which describes a fir tree in Strasbourg, Germany, hung with paper roses, apples, wafers and candies.
Tradition suggests the first Christmas trees in the United States were wooden pyramids covered with evergreen boughs decorated by children in a German Moravian church settlement at Bethlehem, Pa., on Christmas Day in 1747.
From that beginning, the use of a real Christmas tree as part of the Christmas holiday celebration in the United States has grown until today more than 30 million real Christmas trees are purchased each year in the United States. Although all Christmas trees were naturally grown wild trees at one time, almost all Christmas trees marketed today are grown in plantations where they are planted and intensively managed for six to 12 years, specifically for harvest as Christmas trees.
Freshness is important for consumers to tell whether or not a tree is fresh. In general, each tree should have a healthy, green appearance without a large number of dead or browning needles. Needles should appear fresh and flexible and should not come off in your hand if you gently stroke a branch.
A useful trick is to lift a cut tree a couple of inches off the ground and let it drop on the cut butt. Green needles should not drop off the tree. A few dried, inner needles may fall, but certainly the outer, green needles should not be affected.
Choosing a fresh cut tree
1) Purchase the tree early so it can go in water closer to the time when it was cut.
2) Consider that locally grown trees are usually fresher than trees that have been shipped from a distance. They are also generally less expensive.
3) Select a tree that is at least one foot shorter than the ceiling height in the room where you will display your tree.
4) Be sure to look at the trunk. If you can see splits in the trunk, the tree most likely will have dried to a point where it will not take up water.
5) Make sure the base of the trunk is straight and 6 to 8 inches long to allow placement in the tree stand.
Look for a tree with a healthy, green appearance and few dead or browning needles. Avoid trees with a wilted look.
Run your hand along a branch. Needles should be fresh and flexible and should not come off in your hand.
Bump the trunk of the tree on the ground. If green needles fall off the tree, it is not fresh. You can expect a few brown needles to fall from the tree. Choose another tree if many brown needles fall off.
The tree should have a fresh cut across the bottom, about 1 inch above the old base. This removes any clogged wood that may not readily absorb water.
Next, the tree should be placed in a stand with a large reservoir of water and located in the room. Depending upon the size, species, and location of the tree, it may absorb a gallon of water in the first day, so it should be checked frequently and re-watered as necessary.
Although some people advocate placing various substances in the water to preserve freshness, we recommend that consumers simply keep the tree well watered with pure tap water. As long as the tree is able to absorb and transpire water, it is reasonably fire-resistant.
It is important the tree always be kept watered and not allowed to dry out. If the tree becomes dried out, it may not be able to adequately absorb moisture again. Overall, a good rule of thumb is to treat a green Christmas tree just like a fresh bouquet of cut flowers.
The Christmas tree should be in a safe place, preferably near a wall or corner where it is not likely to be knocked over. Keeping the tree away from heat sources such as hot air ducts, wood stoves, fireplaces, etc., will help to preserve freshness and lessen fire danger. Similarly, light cords and connections used in decorating the tree should be in good working condition. Lights should always be turned off at bedtime or when leaving for an extended period of time.
Fresh, well-watered Christmas trees do not represent a fire hazard. Trees that are dried out, however, do. In public buildings it is often advisable to spray the trees with a fire retardant. In fact, in many locations this is necessary for insurance purposes. In the home, however, the best fire retardant is to keep the tree supplied with plenty of water.
If you have questions please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.