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Corner-Lot Christmas Trees

How to buy and keep a fresh, fire-safe tree

The best way to purchase a Christmas tree from a corner lot is to buy as soon as the tree lot opens. The longer you wait to purchase that tree, the more water it will lose and the more likely it will become a fire hazard.
    Even if the corner Christmas tree lot advertises fresh trees delivered weekly, check to see where the trees are grown. A number of Christmas tree farms in Maryland operate corner lots. Often they’ll display pictures of their farms, and their vehicles will often have stickers identifying them as members of the Maryland Christmas Tree Association. Having served as adviser to these growers for more than 30 years, I can assure you that they can be trusted.
    At any lot, shop during daylight hours and not at night. One hundred-watt bulbs scattered at 20-foot intervals do not provide adequate lighting.
    Now, walk right by Fraser firs.
    In studies I conducted over two years for the State Fire Marshal’s office and by the Maryland Christmas Tree Association, Fraser firs proved highly combustible even after being stored in water for two weeks. They and white pine — which does not burn but does smolder with dense smoke — are not allowed in public buildings as a result of this study.

 Don’t Stop Mowing   

    My friend has put away his lawnmower for the season. This is a big mistake because if we get lots of snow and his grass is tall, it is likely that he will have a bad case of snow mold next spring. Keep mowing until the snow flies. It’s good for you to be outside getting exercise and good for keeping the grass free of disease.

    Move onto pine, Douglas fir and blue spruce trees. Bend the branches and pull the needles. If the branches are stiff and brittle, you can bet that the tree had been in storage for a long time. Tip the tree on its side and look at the cut stem. If the stem is coated white with resin, that’s a good indication that the tree had been in storage. However, if the cut end has clean gummy sap, that’s a good indication that it was freshly cut.
    Slam the butt of the tree on the ground. If only brown needles fall to the ground, that’s a good indication that the tree is still retaining water; not so if green needles fall. When lifting the tree, if it feels light keep looking. A seven- to eight-foot tree should weigh 30 pounds or more depending on the species.
    When you get your tree home, cut an inch from its bottom. Place the tree in 100-degree water and store it in complete shade until you’re ready to take it indoors.

    Find the Bay Gardener’s own white pine, Douglas fir and spruce trees cut fresh weekly on his Upakrik Farm at Boy Scout Troops 741 and 853 lot on the corner of Rt. 258 and Rockhold Creek Rd. in Deale. Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays thru Dec. 18: 202-253-7891; karen.d.boyd@verizon.com.