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  Mike's Gardening Tips

Your Top Ten Tips for Happy Holiday Trees!

1. Cut it yourself at a tree farm; its great family fun and you'll KNOW that tree is fresh! (And there's always the free hot chocolate to take into account...) Here's an easy way to find the farms nearest you.

2. No matter where you get it, shake it hard to dislodge dead needles before you tie it to the top of car, and again when you get it home. A lot of those dead needles that disturb folks so much actually came in 'pre-dead' with the tree.

3. ALWAYS cut an extra inch or two off the bottom of the trunk--even if you just cut it fresh an hour before.

4. Place that freshly-cut trunk in a big bucket of water AT LEAST overnight; preferably for as long as 24 to 48 hours. And keep that big bucket filled; a lot of growing areas suffered through a late-summer drought and these trees will need to drink up gallons to re-hydrate themselves. I like to cut yet another inch off the bottom after this soaking.

5. Don't remove any bark from the trunk to make it fit in the stand; the tree needs that bark to absorb water! If the trunk is too big, get a bigger stand.

6. Position your tree away from radiators and other sources of heat.

7. Forget aspirin, pennies and secret "guaranteed fireproof" recipes; studies have shown conclusively that a fresh, well-watered tree is more fireproof that one sitting in a bowl of toxic waste! If you must add something to the reservoir, add a little 7Up (or another non-diet lemon-lime soda) to the water to prolong needle life; the sugar and citric acid are excellent natural preservatives, and the natural lemon and lime flavors bring life to the party as well. A cup of 7Up added to the water once a week is ideal.

8. Check your light strings carefully and trash any damaged ones. Don't overload extension cords or outlets. When you get all the lights hung, turn everything on, wait a few hours and then feel the wall sockets and extension cord ends (both)--if anything other than a bulb feels warm, run another line or lose some lights.

9. Keep that water reservoir filled at all times! The old reliable way to do this without crawling around under the tree is to find "Santa's Magic Water Spout," a gadget available at home center and hardware stores that allows you to do this otherwise onerous chore while standing up; a long tube takes the water you pour into a bell shaped ornament right down to the reservoir. Newer on the scene are water holders that look like wrapped packages under the tree, but with a tube that takes water from the package and siphons it over to the water reservoir. You fill the 'package' (which can hold a couple of gallons!) and gravity and physics (and the tube) do the rest. Here's a round one and a square one.


10. Don't forget the milk and cookies on Christmas Eve!

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