If your holiday celebrations include a Christmas tree, keep in mind that not all trees are created equal. A pretty tree at a roadside lot may be convenient but can cost more and may not be freshly cut.
|A family brings home the perfect Christmas|
tree during a recent outing in Raymond.
PHOTO BY KENDRA RAYMOND
Tree farm owner Bob Payne of Raymond Hill Christmas Tree Farm specializes in choose-and-cut trees. He maintains his inventory through a growing program with a seasonal quota. Once he reaches the limit, he is “sold out for the season.”
Visiting a tree farm supports local business, and customers can benefit from the expertise and knowledge of those who have cultivated the trees all year long.
“Business is very good. People are getting out much earlier in search of their perfect Christmas tree,” said Sharon Lloy of Balsam Ridge in Raymond.
She was happy to see an older 15-footer adopted recently by a family with a cathedral ceiling in their home.
If harvesting a tree is not your forte, most farms offer trees they have recently cut which they can wrap and load for you. These trees are often the crème of the crop.
Why purchase a freshly cut tree?
Believe it or not, a fresh-cut tree is better for the environment than an artificial tree. An acre of trees produces enough daily oxygen for 18 people, and they also attract wildlife.
Trees at farms have been planted for the purpose of harvesting. They can be recycled and chipped, providing mulch or animal bedding.
Artificial trees are not bio-degradable and use many resources during production that are not friendly to the environment.
Which type of tree?
A Maine Forest Service publication entitled “Identifying Maine Trees” says over 90 percent of Christmas trees grown in Maine are balsam fir, which is the most fragrant. Fraser fir can hang onto needles longer, but with less aroma. Lloy suggested a newer balsam-Fraser hybrid which combines features of both species.
How do I care for it?
The tree should be placed in the stand or a bucket of water immediately after arriving at home.
Place your tree in a stand filled with water. The trunk should be freshly cut straight across at least one-half inch thick.
Fill the reservoir daily and do not allow the tree to become dry. Always inspect lights for safety and turn them off when leaving or going out.
A live tree?
The concept of a living tree is gaining popularity among holiday merrymakers. This avenue can have great benefits, but keep in mind that there are also downsides. A living tree is potted in soil and will be much more fragrant in your home. It can be planted outdoors once the ground is thawed or in a pre-dug hole and non-frozen soil.
A live tree will cost much more than a cut tree and will not be happy in the warmth indoors for more than a week. They can also be heavy and cumbersome in the house.
Once the holiday festivities are wrapped up, it is time to plan for recycling your tree. Some families like to relocate the tree outdoors and decorate it with orange slices, suet, peanut butter, or bird seed. Wild animals will enjoy the tree until it can be recycled in spring.
Payne recommends taking your tree to local businesses that produce mulch. He says he is often solicited for contributions of branches, trees, and stumps.
Donating trees to goat farms for food is gaining in popularity. It is important to remove all decorations and tinsel before sharing with the goats. Lloy says trees are a wonderful renewable resource and there are many recycling options.
Raymond Public Works director Nathan White says that the Town of Raymond doesn’t have a tree recycling program yet but it’s a great goal for the future. He says the chipped trees could potentially be made into erosion control mulch for residents.
If a Christmas tree is in your future, consider a choose and cut tree. Lloy says, “it’s a step back in time” and an enjoyable moment with family.
Learn more about Christmas trees in Maine from MCTA on their website: https://www.mainechristmastree.com/ <