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ASK THE EXPERTS

Christmas tree care

POSTED: November 30, 2011 4:00 a.m.

It's hard to believe Christmas is almost here. At my house we take holidays one at a time. I try not to think about Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving. Now that Thanksgiving has passed, it's time to select a Christmas tree.

I remember as a child going with my father to find a Christmas tree on my family's farm. The selection was not great, but with luck we would find an Eastern Red Cedar tree that would pass my mother's inspection.

Years have passed, but I still enjoy a freshly cut Christmas tree. Because of Christmas tree farms and retail centers, the selection of trees has increased greatly.

To ensure a safe and happy holiday season, the Georgia Christmas Tree Association has a few tips on the selection, care and recycling of fresh Christmas trees.

Following these suggestions will make choosing a fresh tree more fun and the best value for your money.

How to select a fresh tree:

• Determine where in your home you will display your tree so that you will be able to tell what size and shape you need.

• Do a freshness test. Hold a branch about 6 inches from the tip. Pull your hand toward the tip, allowing the branch to slip through your fingers. Very few green needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh.

• Another freshness test. Lift the tree a couple of inches off the ground, then bring it down abruptly on the stump end. Outside, green needles should not fall off in substantial numbers. Remember, inside needles do turn brown and shed naturally every year.

How to care for a fresh tree:

• The most important thing to remember is that real trees need water - just like a fresh bouquet of flowers.

• Make a fresh cut across the base of the trunk, 1/4 inch up from the original cut. When a tree is first cut, a seal of sap occurs naturally over its stump which keeps moisture in the tree. It's important to break that seal to allow the tree to take up water needed to keep it fresh throughout the holidays.

• Until you are ready to decorate, keep your tree outdoors, standing in a bucket of water and protected from the wind and sun. This will help the tree retain its moisture.

• Keep plenty of water in your stand. A Christmas tree may absorb a gallon of water in the first 24 hours it's up and between two pints to a gallon of water a day thereafter. Check the stand daily and supply fresh water as needed. If the water supply runs out, a seal will form on the cut surface of the tree trunk and a new cut should be made.

• Position your tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators and television sets.

• Test your light cords and connections before hanging them on the tree to make sure they are in good working condition, i.e. without cracked insulation or broken sockets, and all the sockets are filled. Don't forget to unplug the lights when you go to bed or leave home.

Clark Beusse is the Dawson County extension agent. For more information, call (706) 265-2442.

 

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