SPOTLIGHT – Choosing a good Christmas tree

by Spotlight Staff

When looking for a real Christmas tree of top quality, many factors need to be considered.
“When cutting your own tree, you know that it’s fresh,” says Toso Bozic, woodlot extension specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.
Real Christmas trees are 100 per cent reusable and recyclable.
“Contact your municipality for details of where and how to recycle the tree in January,” Bozic says.
People are also urged to make your tree safe from hazards and danger.
“Safety is a consideration when having a real Christmas tree in the house,” says Bozic.
“It’s a wonderful family tradition, but be sure to follow the instructions for keeping the tree watered so that it doesn’t dry out and present a fire hazard.”
When buying a Christmas tree, be sure to conduct a freshness test,” Bozic says.
Grasp a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull it towards you.
If the tree is fresh, no more than five or 10 needles should come off in your hand, unless it is very cold and dry outside, and then a few more needles may come off.
This is a good time to check the fragrance of the tree as well.”
When it comes to choosing and caring for a Christmas tree, the industry has a few tips:
-Measure the height and width of the area where the tree will be displayed. Cultivated Christmas trees tend to have an 80 per cent taper. This means that a tree that is two metres tall will be about 1.6 metres wide (seven feet tall will be five-foot six inches wide) at the bottom.
-Some species have more open foliage, stiffer branches or longer needles – you may want to have an idea of your decorating theme before you pick your tree
-The Christmas Tree Species webpage provides information about the characteristics of different species of trees that are sold as Christmas trees.
-Look for a retail lot that keeps its Christmas trees fresh in a protected area
-Store the tree in a cool place, out of the wind and rain, until it is ready to be brought indoor.
-Place a tree-moving bag under your tree, ready to be drawn up around the tree to make disposal easy in January.
-Ensure your tree stand is large enough to hold four liters (one gallon) of water as well as the trunk of the tree
-When bringing the tree indoors, cut one to two centimetres (about one half inch) off the tree stump before placing it in water – the cut must be no more than four hours old; otherwise sap will seal the cut and prevent the water from rising, thus drying out the tree.
-The first water fill should be with very warm water enabling the sap to flow readily. As the tree thaws, water will be drawn upwards replenishing the moisture to the extremities. No additives are required.
-Have a family member top up the water twice daily so the base of the tree n ever dries out. Your tree will drink several liters of water every day for the first week or two.

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