Search bayweekly.com Search Google
Volume 16, Issue 49 - December 4 - December 10, 2008
Home \\ This Week's Features \\ Classifieds \\ Dining Guide \\ Home & Garden Guide \\ Editorial \\ Letters to the Editor \\ Archives \\ Distribution Locations
The Bay Gardener by Dr. Frank Gouin

Have a Safe and Merry Christmas

What you need to know before you choose a tree

Christmas trees are a holiday tradition, but they can also be a hazard. A fresh-cut Christmas tree is not necessarily fire safe. If you make certain that the tree is freshly cut, select a safe species and properly care for the tree from the time you bring it home until you discard it, you can be sure you and your family will have a safe and merry Christmas.

The fire marshals of Maryland have declared that the Lincoln strain of Douglas fir is the safest species. Nearly as safe are the Scots pine and Colorado spruce. These species will not ignite easily even after they have been stored out of water for two weeks. They will not ignite at all if they have been kept in water from the first day they were cut.

White pine is not included because, if ignited, it generates too much smoke. The Fraser fir was rejected because it ignited quickly and burnt intensively even after being in water for two weeks.

Freshness is also an important consideration in keeping a tree fire safe. Christmas tree sales yards, especially those in parking lots, do not offer the best storage conditions. Warm days, direct sunlight and wind all contribute to water loss in cut trees. The more water a cut tree loses, the more difficult it is to replace the water that has been lost.

Maryland Christmas tree growers do not start cutting their trees until after the first of November. Christmas trees coming from Michigan, upper New York, New England and Canada are often cut in mid-October and stored in shaded woods until shipped. Find out where your dealer is buying trees from and that will provide you with some idea as to when the trees were cut. Weekly deliveries of trees do not guarantee freshness because they can all come from the same pile.

You can guarantee a fresh cut Christmas by either taking a family outing to a choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm or going to a Christmas tree lot where the trees are cut during the week for weekend sales. Deale Boy Scout Troop 741, selling on Route 258 at Rockhold Creek Road, mark their trees at a local tree farm on Thursday. The trees are cut on Friday and sold that weekend. Those are fresh-cut trees.

Once you bring the tree home, cut an inch or so from the bottom of the stem and place the stem in a bucket of 100-degree water. Keep the tree and bucket in the shade until you are ready to bring it indoors. When you bring it in, cut another inch from the stem and immediately place it in water. Make certain that there is always water in its stand. A good Christmas tree stand should hold at least one gallon of water.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.