Gardener's Grapevine 2012.12.19

Written by David Green.

Once again Sunday afternoon finds me in the living room. Not because I’m wrapping gifts or watching a movie, because I need to get this column out and the La-Z-Boy is there.

I became blessed this week with a raging sinus infection, thanks, I believe, to this crazy up and down weather. While sitting here trying to decide what to write this article on, I was looking at the Christmas tree and thinking about what a beautiful thing it is. We chose a scotch pine this year and it is very symmetrical. It amazes me how a tree so perfect can end up as our Christmas tree, and maybe it was a sin to cut it down. I go through this emotional bantering with myself every year, mostly because of my unending love of nature. In the end I always come to the same conclusion, that this tree was planted with the purpose of being someone’s Christmas tree and if not us then someone else would have cut it.

Art and I have thrown around the idea of having a Christmas tree farm for many years, and the people we purchase from have talked to us about it. There is a ton of work that goes into it. First, is research in knowing what trees sell the best, how many trees of each kind you will sell yearly on average and what the going rate is.

With all the statistics aside, there is a ton of work going to be done to get these trees in a position to be purchased. They start out as seedlings and are purchased in bulk at a price of $2 to $5 a piece, depending on the variety of the tree. Then they need to be planted. That’s not a bad job if it’s just one seedling, but try 2,500 seedlings.

The place we go to does not remove stumps, they cut them down to ground level and let them rot so as to renew the soil and feed the new seedlings. Once planted, the seedlings need to be fertilized, watered if it is a dry spell and weeds and anything else that can change a tree’s growth pattern must be kept cleared away. No one wants to pick a tree with a huge length of poison ivy growing in it! Then twice a year all the trees need pruned to keep a Christmas tree shape. Lastly, you must maintain the walking paths and be there selling the trees  from Thanksgiving through Christmas eve. 

While a Christmas tree farm sounds like a nice little sideline, it is a full time job that would include the entire family and much of everyone’s time. It’s something to ponder if this interests you and something to appreciate when that big beautiful tree is standing proudly in your living or family room.

On the topic of Christmas trees, I have a little story to share. My daughter and son-in-law purchased a little three-foot live tree this year and my daughter fretted  all the way home about what to do with her beloved cat “Rosie” and the tree.

“Mom I know she’s gonna climb it or knock it over!” I heard repeatedly on the way home from the tree farm.

“Well, sweetie, just throw her in it once it’s in it’s stand,” was my reply. “She’ll leave it alone once it bites her.” 

Of course her come back was, “I can’t do that! It will frighten her.” “Then she’ll leave it alone,” I said.

I figured it’d never happen and she’d have many episodes of broken bulbs. A week or so later my daughter said to me, “We threw the cat in the tree like you said and she won’t go near it!”

Wow! I guess mom knows something after all. It only took 27 years for her to admit it, even if it was indirectly.

Merry Christmas all and thanks for reading the column this past year.

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