Buying Local Christmas Trees is Beneficial

Another interesting article in the December Nashua Telegraph Feast section written by Liz and Haley Barbour.

While some of us may still be in denial, the holiday season is here. It’s time for cheesy music, snow, and, you guessed it, Christmas trees. As you deck the halls this season, consider visiting your local farm stand to pick up a fresh, New Hampshire-grown tree. Not only will you be supporting your local farms, but you’ll be helping the environment, as well. It may seem counterintuitive, but buying a real tree versus an artificial tree helps the environment for several reasons.

Real Christmas trees are 100 percent environmentally friendly, whereas artificial trees, while quick and easy, may contain harmful lead toxins and plastics and last centuries in a landfill after being discarded. Some may argue that they’ll never throw away their artificial tree, but how can you beat the smell of a freshly cut pine? Real trees smell wonderful, naturally decompose over time and provide wildlife habitats for your favorite little critters. And there’s no need to worry about too many trees being chopped down; for every Christmas tree that’s cut down, one to three more are planted in its place.

This season, 73 million trees will be planted – that’s a lot of green!

Once you’ve decied to go green this Christmas, you must decide whether to buy from a farm stand or from a “choose-and-cut” tree farm. Your local farm stands sell trees that have been raised and cut at wholesale farms, most likely located in New Hampshire. At “choose-and-cut” farms, you choose your tree from the field and cut it, either by yourself or with the help of a farm employee. Both have their advantages, but cutting your own tree can be a fun family outing. And remember, measure how large you want your tree to be before you go shopping to ensure you buy a tree that will fit in your house.

Wherever you end up shopping, be sure to look at the wide variety of wreaths, garlands, kissing balls, ornaments and local art sold at most stands. Don’t forget to pick up some fresh apples and cranberries to go into the recipe with this column.

After buying a tree, keep it alive and fresh with these three simple, but important, steps:

  • When you get home, cut off at least 1 inch of trunk from the bottom. This will reopen the cells that bring water into the tree, similar to the concept of cutting the bottoms of rose stems before putting them in a vase.
  • If the tree isn’t given water soon after being cut, the tree cells will fill with resin and water absorption will be stopped. So, immediately after cutting, submerge the trunk in water by placing it in a bucket or tree stand.
  • Place your tree in a cool part of the room away from direct sunlight and heat registers.

Your tree should last through New Year’s if well tended, but it’s important to keep your tree watered to keep it fresh. The tree will take in about 1 gallon of water in the first 24 hours and a quart every day thereafter. For easier watering, attach a funnel to a long tube or piece of garden hose. Place the hose in the stand and water through the funnel.

It’s fun to decorate the tree, but hanging ornaments on a pruned tree can be difficult. Pruned trees are dense, and ornaments don’t always hang as much as they seem to sit on the branches. Once you’ve settled your tree into its stand, use pruning shears and cut out branches to create space below boughs for your ornaments to hang. When finished, use the cut boughs for decoration.

And what do you do with that piece of trunk that you cut from the bottom of your tree? It’s always fun to count its rings to see how old the tree is – most should be 4-15 years old – but my family uses it as an ornament to record an event we all shared during the year. Hang each year’s ornament somewhere where everyone can see is, such as across your fireplace mantel. They make for a great conversation starter at holiday parties.

After the holiday is over, consider recycling your tree. Give it back to nature by placing it in your garden for the birds to use as shelter. Hang bird-friendly treats from the branches and enjoy visits from cardinals, chickadees and finches.


This entry was posted in News & Events, Tips & How-To's, Trees & Grasses. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.