CO-Horts Blog

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Oh, Christmas Tree...

Homemade wreath by Susan
For centuries, humans brought boughs and greens indoors as part of ceremonies, celebrations, and they signified eternal life and were even thought to ward off evil spirits.    Today, the fresh trees bring the scent of the outdoors in and let us reflect on the great outdoors.   I admit I love Christmas and I love live plants.  I have sold trees, made wreaths, decorated wreaths all professionally.  I even developed carpil tunnel from many hours of making wreaths, but I still love having a fresh wreath and tree in the house.  To me it is the bringing the outdoors in.   Of course, there are those of you that are allergic to certain evergreen trees, so you get a pass in this conversation, but otherwise please consider the following this Holiday season.   Fresh Christmas trees and wreaths help the environment and the economy.  Fresh evergreen trees reduce carbon dioxide and other chemicals in the atmosphere and release oxygen. They are biodegradable and compost-able.  They can be chipped, used as fish habitat, and used as amendment.  Fresh trees are non-toxic and when burnt, don’t release harsh chemicals.  Artificial trees that are made of plastic and metal are toxic if they burn and end up in the landfill.  And did you know most of these artificial trees are produced outside the United States.  Economically, fresh trees provide jobs in all 50 states.  There are roughly 15,000 tree farms in the United States providing 100,000 jobs.  About 5,000 tree farms are pick and cut farms.  Trees take an average of 7-15 years before they become Christmas trees.  So there are some facts to think about.

But here is another reason to pick fresh.  Make a memory!  Not many people will remember where they purchased their artificial tree.  But people remember going out and cutting or picking a tree.  Since my kids were babies, my husband and I purchase a permit from our local forest service and take the kids out to find a tree.  Often these trees are not the prettiest, but we do it for the memory and to help thin the forest so the other trees around our Christmas tree have more resources to grow.  This past year we got smart and went for a few hikes prior to snowfall and tree cutting season and found a few contenders.   Anytime you can get teenagers off the computer and out in nature, go for it!  So we go for the experience.  We get out the snowshoes, pack the hot chocolate and coffee, and make sure we have our permit so we can tag our tree.   My kids tell stories of remember when the year it was so cold or snowy and remember the year we lost our saw… You get the idea.  So whether you support the local Boyscout troop, nursery, tree farm or local Forest service, think about getting a fresh tree this year.  It helps the environment and the economy.

Here are a few tips to pick out a good tree.  Look for firm pliable but not brittle needles.  There should be a good fragrance if it is fresh.  Color is also a good indicator but varies depending on the type of evergreen tree.  The tree should be relatively clean meaning free of lichen, moss, vines and other foreign material.  Here is an article on different types of trees:

Taking care of your evergreen tree to keep it fresh and your family safe is very important.  Once you get your tree home, make a fresh cut at the bottom taking off at least one inch.  This gets rid of the area that has sealed over since it was cut.  Now get it into water immediately even if you are not ready to take it inside.  It is a good idea to do this a second time upon moving the tree inside if you do that it directly indoors.    Make sure to keep water above this cut until you are ready to recycle your tree after the holidays.  Sprinkle your tree needles with water before decorating to keep the needles fresh.  Refill your container daily as your tree will continue to take up water.  Locate your tree away from heat sources and electronics.  Do not use candles near your tree.  There are great LED lights now but still make sure to turn them off when you leave the house.  Check all the cords for worn spots and damage.  Do not overload your electric circuits.  And make sure your tree is sturdy.

Here is a link about the Colorado state capital tree.  There is a tree tonic recipe that you can use to keep your tree fresher.

Have a safe, Merry Christmas filled with fresh evergreen natural scent.
Merry Christmas from the Carter Family.
Article by Susan L. Carter, Horticulture Agent, CSU Extension Tri River Area


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