How to Select the Perfect Farm-Fresh Christmas Tree

December 8, 2009 8:54:42 AM PST
This weekend many families will be heading out to buy a fresh Christmas tree; the first weekend in December is the most popular time to shop for a tree. There's something magical about a real Christmas Tree, the way it looks, the way it feels, and the wonderful fresh scent that it brings into your home, says Marsha Gray, Executive Director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association. She has some tips on how to pick out the best farm fresh Christmas tree for your family: where to go, what to look for, how to care for the tree and what to do once the holidays are over. Varieties of Trees: Top sellers
  • Balsam fir
  • Douglas fir
  • Fraser fir
  • Boble fir
  • Scotch pine
  • Virginia pine
  • White pine.
  • How to select your Christmas Tree:

  • Give the tree a small shake. A few falling brown needles are common, but falling green needles warn that the tree is dry.
  • Gently grasp a branch and pull it toward you. Only a few needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh.
  • Avoid trees with stiff needles that are losing their color.
  • HINT: Look for a "Marriage Saver" tree stand: Key to using this stand is to visit a farm that pre-drills holes into the tree trunk so you can easily place the tree on the stand.

    Fresh, Farm-Grown Tree Care Tips:

    1) Keep it fresh

  • When you get your tree home, cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch off the end and put the tree into water immediately.
  • If you are not ready to put your tree up right away, keep it in a cool and shaded area such as a garage or covered porch.
  • The single most important thing you can do to keep your tree fresh is to WATER, WATER, WATER! A fresh cut tree may take up as much as a gallon of water on the first day and a quart or more on the following days.
  • Display your tree in an area away from heat sources such as registers, radiators and fireplaces. These heat sources will dry the tree out quickly.
  • 2) Keep it safe

  • Use newer model lights with in-line fuses to avoid overloading.
  • Display your tree away from sources of fire or hear such as fireplaces and candles.
  • Always turn off tree lights when away from home and before going to bed.
  • 3) Dispose Properly

  • Consumers can locate the nearest recycling program by logging onto www.realchristmastrees.org or calling 1-800-CLEANUP.
  • Real Christmas Tree Facts

  • Michigan's excellent soil conditions and climate, along with experienced and knowledgeable growers and a well-established seedling industry, make is possible for Michigan Snowfresh growers to begin nurturing the Snowfresh tree as early as the seedling stage.
  • It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of average retail sale height (6 - 7 feet) or as little as 4 years, but the average growing time is 7 years.
  • Michigan is the third highest tree producer in the United States, only behind by Oregon and North Carolina.
  • Benefits of a Real Christmas Tree vs. a Fake Tree

  • Real Christmas trees help filter dust and smog from the air and help stop soil erosion.
  • Christmas trees on a farm produce oxygen - a necessary component of life for people.
  • Real Christmas trees provide a comfortable habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.
  • After the holidays, Christmas trees can be recycled and used for purpose including bird feeders/shelters, fuel chips and mulch. Fake trees end up in a landfill.
  • Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead.
  • Michigan Bed & Breakfast Locations for Tree-cutting Weekend

    If you'd like to make your tree shopping a special event, consider turning your outing into a weekend adventure. Here are some Michigan Bed & Breakfasts that are offering holiday tree offers and that are an easy drive from the Chicago area:

    Cocoa Cottage
    www.cocoacottage.com
    223 S. Mears Avenue
    Whitehall, MI 49461 (Approximately 3.5 hours from Chicago)
    Phone: 800-204-7596
    Contact: Larry Robertson and Lisa Tallarico
    relax@cocoacottage.com

    The Arts & Crafts bungalow, lovingly restored by its owners, carries out its chocolate theme from the four guest rooms named for famous chocolates to evening turn-down service with port and handmade chocolates.

    A New Christmas Tradition you'll take a drive to the family-owned Stibitz Tree Farm to cut your own tree or choose a just-cut tree. Then sit by the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate, tuck into a cozy room, and awaken to an award-winning breakfast. The package for 2 includes 2 nights lodging, dinner certificate, and?$50 Stibitz Gift Certificate and range from $365-$440.

    Castle in the Country Bed & Breakfast Inn
    www.castleinthecountry.com
    340 M-40 South
    Allegan, MI 49010 (150 miles, 2 ½ hours)
    Phone: 888-673-8054
    Contact: Ruth Boven
    info@castleinthecountry.com

    Savor the season in the countryside of Southwest Michigan. Snowshoe or hike wooded forest trails, then warm yourself at the outdoor fireplace under the stars. Enjoy Christmas cookies and hot cocoa beside the fireplace in your romantic room or suite with whirlpool tub for two. Stop at the recommended Michigan Christmas Tree Farm to redeem your gift certificate for your own natural Christmas tree or wreath.

    This package includes 3 days/2 nights, full gourmet breakfast, certificate toward tree or wreath. Available November 17-December 25, 2009. Rates for room with fireplace $368; suite with fireplace and whirlpool tub $448-$488. All rooms with private bath. Tax is additional.

    Martha's Vineyard
    www.marthasvy.com
    473 Blue Star Highway
    South Haven, MI 49090 (100 miles, 2 hours to Chicago)
    Phone: 269-637-9373
    Contact: Lou & Ginger Adamson
    adamson@marthasvy.com

    The wonderfully restored 1852 home has been welcoming B&B guests since the year 2000, and for four years running has been voted the "Most Romantic Hideaway." It's the time of year again where we're all caught up in the flurries?the impending snow as well as the hustle and bustle of the holidays. This season, take time to relax and to prepare for the festivities with a Martha's Vineyard "Christmas Getaway."

    Enjoy a 2-night stay and a visit to Tall Timbers Tree Farm, where you'll find the perfect Christmas tree and perhaps a live wreath for the door. Get cozy by the fire, enjoy fresh baked cookies and cocoa, and watch a heartwarming classic like It's a Wonderful Life. Holiday bonus: a stocking full of discount coupons from local merchants to get your Christmas shopping off to a good start. The2-night weekend packages range from $270 - $350.

    To plan your Michigan holiday tree-cutting weekend getaway, be sure to check out www.michigan.org/christmastree .

    "Marriage Saver Tree Stands"; also known as Super Stand Straight or Stand Strait.

    Remember, there must be a hole drilled in the bottom of the tree to accommodate the stand. Ask the tree lot or tree farm to do the drilling.

    Munro Landscaping, 10057 South Western, Chicago, IL 60643, 773-881-4913; contact Mike Munro

    Sheerlund Forests: http://www.sheerlundforests.com/standstrait/standstrait.htm.

    Mendham Garden Center: http://shop.mendhamgardencenter.com/browse.cfm/christmas/super-stand-straight-----tree-stand-rs107/4,538.html

    Wahmoff Farms: http://www.mitrees.com/; contact Betsy Wahmhoff Perales


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