So you think you want a live tree in your house this Holiday season. The following is my own uneducated yet learned instruction manual on all the issues for the care and feeding your live Xmas tree from buying to planting.
Fifty years ago my questions on the care and planting was limited to, quote, “Don’t keep your tree in the house for more than four days.”
So, through real life lessons learned I learned by caring for a Xmas tree right and wrong I furnish this honestly country manual. Follow the (numbered) instructions you will have an enjoyed Holiday tree for Christmas and ever more.
(1) So you want a live tree, and while it is still mid-fall park two straw bales on planned planting site. Keep in mind sewer lines, septic tank drain field, and over head power lines.
(2) Number one, know your soil. Dig a hole inspecting thr earth into which you plan to plant the tree. Is it sandy or a deep dark much like soil, clay or in between?
(3) Knowing your soil check your yellow pages or better yet ask around for knowledgeable nurserymen and/or tree farms/plantations. Call as many as required until you find one who’s trees are started/raised in soil similar to your’s. Find one preferably cut or dig your own merchant, for assured freshness.
(4) Ask if burlap and basket’s available, fine. If not a couple yards burlap may be purchase at/in a sewing center. Basket size is relative tree size selected. A basket may be purchased in a garden center.
(5) Ground covered protected from freezing, You have your burlap and basket and need to pick out a tree. I’ve brought larger, but I seriously recommend a growing tree less than four feet (4’) in height. Rule of thumb, the smaller the tree the better chance’s for tree’s survival.
(6) The tree selected, shovel as carefully as possible all the way around the chosen tree. Tree freed, tilt it carefully to wrap and tie tightly the burlap over the soil the roots. This keeps the soil in contact with the roots. Place tree in basket to keep it up right and easier to carry out of the wood lot. It’d be best if tree be transport upright keeping tree roots and soil tightest together, rather than laid on its side. And another thing, your tree is now suffering trauma. The roots exposed even still with roots, those root ends are susceptible to freezing or frost bite. If even kept in garage for a couple days protect those roots with a couple blankets.
(7)(8) For display and a safely kept tree, I handled both matters all in one setup. To give a (presumed) four foot tree height I first set two concrete blocks on a protected floor. On the blocks I’d set a galvanized wash tub. In the tub I placed the basketed roots of the live tree. If it leaned one way or another picking the basket up, placing a shim or thin blocking between the basket and tub to realign the tree’s trunk plumb did the trick. Next I added water to the wash tub. A couple buckets to likely start with so that the roots may drink. The tree after all has been uprooted from it’s Wintry sleep and will be mixed with emotion for a few days as to what season this up rooting is? A four foot tree, ten or twelve inched wash tub on eight inch blocks all added make the tree appear taller than it is, a plus or minus six feet (6‘). A sheet or a fitting tree skirt placed around the heavy elevated stand and tub, the bottom of the festivities tree will appear dressed it to the floor. The tree elevated surely helps puppy dog’s tail stay out of trouble.
(9) Now, How long may the tree be kept indoors. Most nurserymen tell us four days. I’d have to go along with that if it’s an already long time un-watered un-protected dug live tree. We had kept our live trees in the house eight days. Example, Saturday to Saturday, Sunday to Sunday. If properly purchased and watered as here before described.
(10) Taking down the tree is no simple mater. So, you wanted a live tree for Christmas. The planting shall be just as much un as digging it. Now, It’s survival will depend on the next carefully followed instructions. Get help. Some unsuspecting muscled boob who wont know what he’s gotten himself into until to late. Firstly, a hole must be dug in the yard under the afore mentioned and spotted straw bales. a couple inches in radius larger plus about maybe as much as two inches deeper. Secondly, as I had suggest a couple well developed gentlemen will find this next part of the planting experience much cleaner if the washtub and all it contains is carried out as a unit. The tree coming out of a warm house must be planted immediately to avoid freezing, roots and all. It is best the tree be removed from tub and basket before root planting. The burlap bag will root away allowing the roots freedom to grow. When the tree has been successfully positioned push in and with hands or maybe a stick pack the yards dug earth tightly about the balled roots, adding the tub’s water in and about the tree also makes for even easier packing the earth tightly.
NOTE: Do not take tree out of the house to sit in yard, garage, or sit on porch until another day. The tree freshened and season confused can easily freeze dead; roots, trunk and limbs. Again tree must be immediately planted.
(11) The tree planted, HOLD IT, it must be covered to keep it’s trunk and limbs form freezing, Just planting it isn’t near enough protection. The ground around the newly disturbed earth must be protected as well this protection derived by simply burying the whole tree in snow, the more the better. Snow at 32* is neither freezing nor thawing, neither to cold nor to warm. If snow is unavailable use leaves raked off your yard. If by chance the leaves had been hauled away for composting, Straw is a most efficient substitute for covering the tree. Plus a small 5’ x 7’ inexpensive plastic tarp may be used to keep the straw in place and serve as a wind break. Knowing little of what I speak of next, it should not take the tree more than a couple weeks to acclimate itself to the seasonal weather environment all about it.
(12) Finally Remember, you and your tree properly chosen and all parties concerned properly prepared, experiencing a live tree adventure shall long live in your family’s memories for many years to come, plus unbounded happiness for all manner wildlife; feathered friends, furry chipmunks and squirrels who’ll come by now and then some what’ll stay never to go away.