Christmas tree care and feeding 101

After Thanksgiving, most tree lots are busy welcoming the crowds for a festive annual tradition – choosing the Christmas tree that will warm your home this December.

After you find that perfect tree, you’ll want to keep it fresh for the holiday season. Chal Landgren, a Christmas tree specialist with the Oregon State University Extension Service, says there are several things you can do to keep your tree fresh through the holidays.

The first thing, Landgren said, is to look for trees with firm needles.

“In a tree’s late stages, its needles will break,” Landgren pointed out. “On a tree that’s fully hydrated, its needles will be firm-looking and when you bend them they will tend to bend back.” Species that stay freshest the longest include Noble fir, followed by Nordmann trees, he added.

Other tips on trees include:

To store it before bringing it inside, leave it outside, preferably in a bucket of water. It should keep well in a cool, shady spot.

If you leave the tree out longer than a day or so, make a fresh cut consisting of about a quarter inch off the base of the trunk to improve the tree’s water uptake.

Once you bring the tree inside, make sure its stand is regularly filled with water. Trees drink a lot of water at first. A stand should hold a quart of water for every inch of stem diameter. A tree with a six-inch stem diameter will need a stand that holds a gallon and a half of water.

Additives in the water are not recommended. Plain tap water is best.

Keep the tree away from heat sources as best as possible. Heat and air movement dry out a tree faster. If it’s in water and not near a heat source, the tree could easily last three weeks, Landgren said.

When you’re done enjoying your tree for the season, recycle it. Several groups, including the Boy Scouts, recycle Christmas trees. You can also bring it to organic recycling facilities.

For more gardening stories and advice, visit the Extension Service’s website at http://bit.ly/QqowsF.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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