By Bethany O’Rear
As Thanksgiving becomes a fond memory, the focus shifts to Christmas — and the pinnacle of Christmas decorating is finding the perfect tree. If the goal is to find a tree even Lucy is proud of (forgive the “Peanuts” reference), there are a few points to consider.
First, look at timing. Most commercially available fresh-cut trees are harvested in early November. For the consumer, this may seem quite early, posing the challenge of keeping the tree looking its best until the last present is unwrapped.
If the tree was properly handled and placed in cold storage before shipping, freshness will not be an issue. However, if the tree was harvested and subjected to wind and sun exposure, it will dry out. This decreases shelf life dramatically and poses a fire risk. The key to freshness is moisture.
Ask the following questions:
o Are the trees displayed in water?
o Is the ground in the tree selection area damp from regular irrigation?
o Is the tree heavy? (Weight indicates moisture content.)
o What color are the needles? (If a rich dark green, the tree has received the water it needs.)
Want to guarantee the tree is as fresh as possible? Cut your own! There are numerous choose-and cut
Christmas tree farms throughout Alabama. This supports a local farmer and helps your family make memories combing the field to find the perfect tree.
Choosing the right type of tree is as important as choosing a fresh one. Options vary depending on pre-cut or self-cut trees. Needle shape, color, texture, branch structure and scent differ. Varieties typically found at local retailers are Douglas fir, Frasier fir, white pine, Scotch pine and Colorado blue spruce. Virginia pine, Eastern red cedar, white pine, Leyland cypress and Arizona cypress are common at choose-and-cut farms.
Once home with your selection, these steps keep your tree merry and bright:
o Make a fresh cut, removing 1/2 inch from the bottom of the trunk. This helps the tree absorb water.
o If not ready to trim the tree, place it in the shade in a container of fresh water.
o For those with allergies, a quick spray from the garden hose removes residual pollen or dust.
o Make sure the tree stand holds at least 1 gallon of water. Check the water level daily.
o Fresh water is all the tree needs; no additives are necessary.
o If the tree isn’t taking up water, drill several holes in the trunk below the water line.