, Salem, MA


December 6, 2013

North Shore Gardener: Keeping poinsettias and cut greens vibrant


A: Don’t worry about buying a live Christmas tree! These trees are raised like any other crop.

(And why do they call them “live” trees anyway, when they are cut — and legally “dead”?)

But before you let anyone put a guilt trip on you for cutting a live tree, you’ve got to be able to counter-attack with these facts:

There are about a million acres of domestic Christmas trees under cultivation in the U.S. this year. How big is a million acres? That’s bigger than Norfolk, Suffolk and Middlesex counties combined!

Most farmed trees are harvested when they’re about 8 years old. Tree farmers rotate their tree crop, harvesting only 10 to 20 percent of the trees each year — and replanting immediately. This mini-forest that they are perpetually growing on their land provides shelter for hundreds of varieties of wildlife, as well as replenishing the supply of trees for coming years.

And that same cut tree can be recycled after the holidays as mulch, as a bird feeder, or as wildlife cover.

But buying a really living tree is a sensible choice.

If you are buying a live, potted tree, with the roots in a burlap ball, and intend to plant it, prepare a hole NOW before the ground freezes. Dig the hole and cover the hole with a board, a deep layer of straw, and a tarp — then you’ll be ready to plant, even in 6 feet of snow.

The mound of soil you removed from the hole will be needed when you plant to fill in around the root ball. It will also need to be kept covered and unfrozen... This soil can be put into a garbage can or plastic bags or a wheel barrow and placed in a frost-free garage or cellar.

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