Oh Christmas Trees, Oh Christmas Trees!

Every year, farm stands in the Nashua area hang up strings of lights over rows of their Christmas trees. Local families flock to the sweet smelling displays of holiday decorations. Children get excited as the first snow brings out their Christmas spirit, and the annual pilgrimage to get the perfect tree begins.  However, the journey that the tree takes is much longer than a quick drive to your local farm stand, as the typical Christmas tree can take 6 to 12 years to grow to marketable size, depending on growing conditions and how tall people want their trees.

Adrian Lavoie, of Lavoie’s Farm in Hollis, planted five-thousand trees on his farm this past spring.  However, the trees were only about four years old and one foot tall, and it will take another seven years for the trees to reach the desired height of six to seven feet tall.

And, before he could put any of the trees in the ground, Lavoie had to make the same preparations that anyone has to make before planting a tree. “Well, you have got to get the soil nutrients correct for the particular trees,” says Lavoie. So, the soil had to be fertilized so that the trees would not die from malnutrition, and the grass around the trees had to be cut down so that the root systems of the grass and the newly planted trees would not compete with each other for nutrients.

After the trees were planted, Lavoie was faced with the challenge of making sure that his new trees would not fall prey to pests and diseases. “Japanese beetles and mites will chew the bark off all the trees,” says Lavoie of the various pests that he has to combat. “If there is a heavy infestation, we have to spray the trees.” Lavoie uses a heavy oil to smother the eggs of the mites, which has a much smaller impact on the environment than using a pesticide.

Lavoie planted five different varieties of Christmas trees: four kinds of firs and one type of spruce.  Though the Balsam fir and Fraser fir are the most common Christmas tree found in New England, it seems that locally, people like the aromatic Colorado Blue spruce more. “Well, it is because they have a sturdy branch, and that they are very prickly,” says Lavoie. “Kids and animals do not like to play with them because they grab the sharp needles and they hurt.”

If young children and mischievous pets are not a problem, the Concolor fir has a beautiful thin, long needle, which makes for a very pretty tree once it has been decorated with beads, lights, and ornaments. Finally, the Douglas fir, a tree native to the west and fairly uncommon in New England, has thick needles and a consistent triangular style that make for a very beautiful and traditional Christmas tree.

But, we don’t have to wait out the years for the trees to grow at Lavoie’s Farm, as Christmas trees and decorations are available right now at local farm stands.  And, wherever you end up shopping, be sure to look at the wide variety of wreaths, garlands, kissing balls, and ornaments available at most stands.  Wreaths, ranging in size from small enough for a child to carry, to large enough to hang on the side of your house or barn, are sold either undecorated or filled with colorful berries, pine cones, and sparkling bows.  In Hollis for example, Lull Farm and Brookdale Farms both sell colorful explosions of festivity called kissing balls, as well as swags, roping, and mantelpiece decorations.  In addition, Brookdale sells decorative bows, wreaths, and wooden reindeers made from birch trees (and, you just might see a small herd of real reindeer there to greet you as you drive in).

Written by Julie Christie

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