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Christmas Tree Farms
Christmas is just around the corner and it's time to start thinking about a Christmas tree.
I love the smell of a real Christmas tree. Smells play such a big role in memory-making. To me, Christmas isn't Christmas without the smell of a real tree, sugar cookies baking in the oven, and apple cider and cinnamon simmering on the stove.
There a few things to consider when deciding to buy a real Christmas tree. There are also things to consider in choosing the right place to buy one from, how to get it home, what to do with it once you have it home and what to do with it after Christmas. I'm going to provide you with a few tips in all of these areas to hopefully make your Christmas this year extra special.
Reasons to Consider Buying A Real Christmas Tree This Year
- Consider buying a great-smelling real Christmas tree instead of an odorless artificial tree made in Korea, China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong.
Real trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and metals that add to the landfill waste.
With a real tree you don't have to figure out how to box it back up in the tiny box it came in and store back up in the attic or garage.
Fun Real Christmas Tree Facts
- Each Christmas tree harvested usually results in the farmer planting 2 to 3 seedlings in its place.
- There are about 1 million acres in production for growing Christmas trees. Each acre provides the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people.
- There are about 15,000 Christmas tree growers in the U.S., and over 100,000 people employed full or part time in the industry.
- There are approximately 5,000 "choose and cut" farms in the U.S.
- The average growing time for a six foot tree is 7 years.
- The top selling Christmas trees are: Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Noble Fir, Scotch Pine, Virginia Pine and White Pine.
What to Do Before You Go Pick Out a Tree
- Call before you go! Many Christmas tree farms are run by small families. Many factors affect their operating hours. The weather is important. If it has rained recently, the fields may be too muddy to allow visitors in. The owner may be sick that day. They may have run out of trees, etc. You never know, so it’s best to call ahead.
- Take some rope and tie-downs with you in case the farm you select doesn’t provide them or runs out of them. You want to be able to secure the tree to bring it home.
- If you’re taking kids and planning a day trip you may want to bring snacks, disposable wipes and drinks.
- You may want to dress in jeans and tennis shoes if you’re going to be hiking out to cut your own tree. Consider the weather when determining how many layers of clothing you’ll wear. You want to be comfortable and warm.
- You may want to bring gloves if for nothing more than tying it down to bring home.
- If you’re making this a big outing, bring the camera to record the event. This can be a very memorable event if it's your first time as a couple, buying it for your first house, or any other "firsts". It can become a family tradition and you can have a scrapbook of each year's trip to buy a tree.
Tips for Selecting The Right Christmas Tree for You
Determine the size of tree you need for the space it will be displayed. You don’t want to guess. Trees seem to look smaller than they really are. You don’t want to get it home and have to trim half of it off. Decide if you want one that is tall and slender or short and fat.
Variety of tree – Firs, Spruce, and Pines are the most common varieties with each of them having a multiple varieties.
Check the needlesif it’s a pre-cut tree. Tapping the tree on the ground should not cause a large number of needles to fall.
Check the look and smell- does the tree smell good and look green?
How to Select A Christmas Tree Farm
Decide if you want to choose your tree with it still growing in the ground and watch or participate in it being cut on the spot (called “choose and cut”) or if you want to pick one out of an inventory of precut or pre-harvested trees. These are also referred to as fresh cut. Many of the pre-cut tree farms have extra trees that are brought in from other states to provide varieties that do not necessarily grow well in the area you live.
Determine the features important to you in the experience. If you’re looking to make an outing of it, you may want to find a tree farm that has other activities such a wagon rides, hayrides or sleigh ride. Some offer pictures with Santa, hot chocolate, and even petting zoos. Some even have live reindeer. Some offer drive-thru Christmas displays as well. Some offer gift shops that sell ornaments, tree stands, and other decorations.
Distance may be a factor when you think about having to transport the tree home. You want to be able to safely transport it and not dry it out too much on the way home.
Features that Set some Tree Farms Apart
Tree shaking service- some tree farms have a machine that shakes your tree to dislodge any loose limbs, dead needles or any critters that may be hiding. Some farms may charge a fee for this service, some are free.
Tree tying, baling or bagging- some farms provide a bag or netting to wrap your tree to make transporting it home easier.
Frosting or flocking- some farms are able to spray your tree with an artificial snow.
Additional items- Some farms offer other related products for sale such fresh cut wreaths and garlands. Many people like having a few fresh sprigs for Christmas decorating.
Getting Your Tree Home
If you have access to a truck, it makes transporting it home easier. If you plan to put it on top of your vehicle, you may want to consider protecting the top by placing a sheet of plastic, a towel or blanket down first.
If you can get it wrapped or baled, it will help
Tie it down properly. You don’t want to risk injury to your vehicle, or worse yet, cause a wreck trying to get it home.
Taking Care of Your Fresh-Cut Tree Once You Have it Home
- Cut off a half inch to an inch of the base straight across and place into water as soon as possible.
- Make sure your stand fits the tree. (it might be a good idea to take your stand with you when buying a tree) The outer bark is important to its water absorption. Expect the tree to absorb about a gallon of water the first day and between 1 and 3 quarts each day after that. If the water level gets too low, the tree will excrete a sap that will seal the stump. If this happens, you’ll want to make a fresh cut and refill with water. You’ll want to use warmer water that will soften the sap. It’s much easier if you avoid this in the first place.
- Make sure the tree is not located close to fireplaces, heater vents, heaters, or direct sunlight. All of these things will dry it out.
- Only decorate it with UL approved lights that have been inspected for damage.
- Do not burn pine trees in your fireplace or wood stove. Their sap can cause a flash fire or chimney fire.
- Check for recycling centers in your area. Many will mulch your tree for free after Christmas.
- If recycling is not an option you may want to do what we did for a few years. Since we live in the country and have to burn our own trash, it was a tradition for a few years for us to burn our Christmas tree outdoors as part of our New Year’s eve celebration.
Websites with Extensive Lists of Christmas Tree Farms
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