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Take good care of this year’s Christmas tree

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By Cheryl Steenerson

 It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go you’ll find reminders and the hands-down winner is the Christmas tree. When it comes to the tree, there are three different types of houses, the ones with the real tree, the ones with the fake tree and the ones with both.

I grew up with real ones and fake ones. I actually loved the silver fake with the rotating color wheel lamp that made it change colors. There is relatively no mess with the fake, but the real ones smell so wonderful. No candle can match it. Nowadays on the farm, it’s all about the real, and making memories. 

The week before Christmas, the kids come out and we walk the farm looking for the perfect cedar tree to cut. 

A 3-year-old and 6-year-old make it a long walk. First we start the peach dump cake in the slow cooker then we head outside. We look for deer and other animal tracks as well as scat along the way, all in search of the perfect tree. Once found, the chain saw works its magic and the tree is trudged back to the house. 

With the exception of the star and tinsel, the adults typically end up doing most of the decorating, but what an experience. By the time everything is done there’s chili and cake. Lots of memories come from the many foibles of the day, right along with lots of laughter.

A fresh cut tree needs constant water and if you are about to purchase one, there are a few tips you need to remember before you shop. Ask where the tree comes from so you’ll have an idea of how long it’s been cut. Traveling trees get dry fast. 

Look to see if they’ve been stored out in the sun and wind, which further dries them out.  Look for brown needles and pound the trunk onto the ground to see if green needles fall off. If so, it’s exceptionally dry.

Once you get one home be sure to cut an inch or two off the bottom of the trunk. Then let it soak in a bucket of warm water until you’re ready to bring it inside. It helps to open the pores and get the sap flowing. It will take water up more easily and the tree will stay fresh much longer.

There is a solution you can make that will really make it stay fresh longer, if you add it to a gallon of water and use it to keep the water reservoir filled. You need one cup of corn syrup and three tablespoons of liquid bleach, per gallon of water. 

The bleach thins out the sticky pitch from the tree bottom so it can easily take water up and the syrup feeds the tree with simple carbohydrates.

Now, let’s get ready for the Christmas parade happening this Saturday. I’ll be there, hiding in plain sight with the Humane Society. We’re hoping to win again but we know we’ll have fun. Happy growing.

 

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.