Live Christmas trees are traditional. Going out and picking out a tree, regardless of whether it is already cut or you cut your own, is an important family activity for many. Once you get the tree home, the fragrance tells you that the Christmas season has arrived at your house.
There are some Grinches out there who would like us to believe that we are upsetting the balance of nature if we have a real Christmas tree. Others would like us to believe that we are wasting more precious resources if we buy an artificial tree. The right answer is to buy whatever you want.
Those who believe that cutting a real tree is wasting resources are wrong. Christmas trees are grown by tree farmers as a crop to be harvested, just as wheat, corn and other crops are planted to be harvested. Christmas tree farmers, however, have to wait longer than other farmers to harvest their crop.
As you drive through the countryside, look at forests and woodlots for green and white signs identifying them as tree farms. Most tree farms in New York State grow trees for Christmas, rather than for lumber or wood pulp.
Christmas tree farmers have to tend to their crops just as other farmers do. They have to control insects and diseases. They also have to prune them to maintain their desired shape. They may have to fertilize them as well. Then when it is time to harvest the trees, they have to cut them, package them in nets and ship them to tree dealers. If they don’t cut them at just the right time, they will continue to grow and interfere with trees around them. When you see big bare spots in a Christmas tree, that indicates that two trees grew too big and began invading the other’s space. Most importantly, Christmas tree farmers replace the trees they cut, usually planting three or more seedlings for each tree cut.
When you get your fresh cut Christmas tree home, cut about an inch off the base diagonally. Then place it in a bucket of water and leave it in the garage at least over night. This will reduce the shock of going from the cold outdoors to the warm indoors.
When you set up the tree indoors, be sure that it is kept watered throughout its stay. Keep candles and other open flames away from it. But most of all, enjoy it without feeling any guilt about the environmental impact. Christmas tree growers are farmers who use sustainable techniques to assure that we have plenty of trees each Christmas.
Finally, recycle your tree after Christmas. Take it to one of the many recycling stations around the area to have it ground into mulch.