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Take steps to give Christmas tree longevity

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, at 8:18 a.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, at 8:36 a.m.

Area Christmas tree farms

•  4C Christmas Tree Farm, 11229 E. Creed, Wichita; 316-684-0464

•  Pine Creek Farm, 994 N. Meridian, Newton; www.pinecreektreefarm.com, 620-367-2606

•  Pine Lake Christmas Tree Farm, 6802 S. Oliver, Derby; www.pinelakechristmastrees.com, 316-258-0088

•  Prairie Pines Christmas Tree Farm, 4055 N. Tyler Road, Wichita; www.prairiepines.com, 316-722-1145

•  Windy Knoll Tree Farm, 15630 E. 47th South, Derby; www.windyknolltrees.com, 316-733-0918

Source: Kansas Christmas Tree Growers Association, www.kctga.com

Haul out the holly

Put up the tree before my spirit falls again

Fill up the stocking

I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now

For people wondering last week, with our early Thanksgiving, whether a live Christmas tree can survive the long haul through Christmas, the answer is yes.

Many people fall back on the artificial tree, with its reliable sameness, including its lack of expiration date (until the year when it’s finally worn out). While there are artificial trees that can be quite charming (and I may or may not have one or two in my possession), I usually don’t pass up the chance to buy a real Christmas tree, especially from a Christmas tree farm.

As I muse every year, how many opportunities do we city slickers have to go out in the fields and pick what we want? This isn’t an option even in the midst of high spring garden shopping. Who could resist in the dead of winter?

I also love to visit the garden centers, even during winter, and shopping for cut trees there and at Christmas tree lots is fragrantly festive. Another option is to buy a potted living tree at a garden center that you bring in for a few days at Christmas and then plant outside. I also love to have a tree outdoors that is lighted, whether it’s planted in the front yard or sunk in sand in an urn on the front porch.

For we need a little Christmas

Right this very minute

Candles in the window

Carols at the spinet

When shopping for a cut tree, look for its needles to be lush green and firmly attached at the tips of the branches, where the growth is new, David Apsley of the Ohio State University Extension is quoted as saying in the Akron Beacon Journal. Lightly pull a branch through your hands and make sure very few needles come off. If you shake the tree a little and a lot of needles come loose (not older brown needles farther back on the branch), the tree is no longer fresh.

White pines and Fraser firs have excellent needle retention, according to the Ohio Christmas Tree Association. Austrian pines, Scotch pines, Southwestern white pines, Douglas firs and concolor firs have very good retention. Don’t expect needles to last as long on balsam firs, the association says.

According to the Akron Beacon Journal:

“When you get your tree home, cut about an inch off the bottom of the trunk and put it in water so the trunk doesn’t seal over with sap. Do that even if you won’t be bringing the tree into the house right away, Apsley recommended. The cut is good for about six hours, the extension says; if more time elapses, cut it again.

“Set the tree up so it’s away from direct sunlight and sources of heat, such as fireplaces and heating registers. … And if you can stand it, turn down the temperature in the room where the tree is displayed, or close the heating vents partly or completely.

“Keep the tree well-watered, Apsley said, and never let the water level fall below the bottom of the trunk. A tree can take up a great deal of water in the first week, so check the water level at least a couple of times a day at first and replenish when necessary.

“Avoid keeping the lights on for hours on end, and never leave the lights on when no one is home, McConnell said. Consider using LED lights, which burn cooler than incandescent bulbs.”

Yes, we need a little Christmas

Right this very minute

It hasn’t snowed a single flurry

But Santa, dear, we’re in a hurry …

Area Christmas tree farms lost a few big trees to the drought this year.

“It was really toward the end of July, August – there was just no moisture to pull out of the ground. You just took them to the burn pile,” Amy Grelinger of Windy Knoll Tree Farm said. It made her teary-eyed to see it. Can you imagine what survivors the remaining trees – the vast majority – are? Willy Goevert of 4C Christmas Tree Farm said he doesn’t do any supplemental watering at his place.

“It was painful to take them down, but we’re blessed with a lot of trees,” Willy said.

Some tree farms are trying different species, including the Virginia pine at Windy Knoll, Amy said.

“Virginia do very well in Kansas. They smell gorgeous.” But to some people, “they’re a little too vibrant green. Some people are turned off by the smell. I love them, and they’re hardy Kansas plants.

“People are traditional. I’m not sure there’s anything to take the place of Scotch pines.”

For I’ve grown a little leaner (not)

Grown a little colder

Grown a little sadder

Grown a little older

And I need a little angel

Sitting on my shoulder

Need a little Christmas now

Don’t forget to join us at The Eagle open house on Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. We’re at 825 E. Douglas. My colleague Beccy Tanner has decorated a real tumbleweed that she picked up in Stafford County as a Kansas-themed “tree” in the newsroom. I find it most pleasing – a sort of bronzed twister stopped in its motion. I’d like to see how long it lasts. (This is not a “tree” you can put lights on.)

For we need a little music

Need a little laughter

Need a little singing

Ringing through the rafter

And we need a little snappy

"Happy ever after"

Need a little Christmas now

Reach Annie Calovich at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com.

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