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.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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