Produce Pete's Christmas 2013
Christmas is the most widely celebrated festival world over. Santa riding on a reindeer and a sleigh with his bag full of gifts, candies and fruit. A green Christmas tree decorated with tinsel and a star, gingerbread houses, holly and mistletoe, these are all a sign that Christmas is here.
In the 1800's, two more Christmas customs became popular-decorating Christmas trees and sending Christmas cards to relatives and friends. Many well-known Christmas carols, including "Silent Night" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", were composed during this period. In the United States and other countries, Santa Claus replaced Saint Nicholas as the symbol of gift giving.
The Most Popular Christmas Trees and Their Distinctive Qualities
The Balsam and Fraser Firs
All firs have soft, flattened needles. Depending on species, the needles vary in length. All types of firs are characterized by their pleasant fragrance. Their needles are always dark green. The balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) are respectively the most popular and the second most popular Christmas tree in Canada. The balsam fir is found in cooler climates and is therefore found in abundance in Canada.
The Fraser fir is very similar in form and appearance to balsam fir. It is found abundantly in Canada and in some regions of the United States.
To grow, both types of trees demand abundant soil moisture and humid atmosphere. Growth is best on well-drained soils that are somewhat acid.
The Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) is the third most popular Christmas tree in Canada. It grows in a wide variety of soils and sites. The tree was originally introduced in Canada by European settlers.
It is renowned for its dark green foliage and its excellent needle retention.
White Spruce (Pices gluaca) is a conifer found throughout Canada. Its cone-shaped crown along with its spreading branches gives it a nice appearance which makes it a good Christmas tree.
White spruce has excellent foliage color, short stiff needles and a good natural shape.
About forty million real Christmas trees are sold in North America every year. Of these, five to six million are grown in Canada. A real Christmas tree is part of the Christmas tradition and contributes to making Christmas a real and meaningful experience.
Many are said to be using artificial trees to save our forests. The truth is, however, that almost all trees harvested in Canada are grown on Christmas tree farms. Thanks to the annual demand for Christmas trees, thousands of acres of otherwise unfarmed land is being farmed. Indeed, Christmas tree farms are most often located on land which could not be used to grow other farm products (these farms are on barren slopes or under power lines). In addition, for each tree harvested, about ten others are being grown on farms to prepare for the next ten harvest seasons.
Christmas trees have positive effects on the environment:
They produce oxygen and rid the air of carbon dioxide, thereby reducing the earthwarming greenhouse effect.
They improve soil stability.
They provide an aesthetically pleasing improvement to the land and bring value to portions of land which could not be used to grow other crops.
They serve as wildlife habitat.
They are naturally biodegradable.
They are a renewable resource.
Many people wrongly believe that a Christmas tree can be the cause of a fire. Of course, this can't be true. A Christmas tree which is well cared for will remain fresh and will not catch fire unless a strong flame supported by inflammable material is placed under the tree. In fact, there were examples of houses which burned completely while having a real Christmas tree which did not even catch fire.
Other people have mentioned that real Christmas trees dry up and leave needles on their carpets after the Christmas season is over. Fresh trees don't shed needles. Kept in water, it is not unusual for Christmas trees to last two months or more in your home shedding very few needles.
How to choose the best tree and how to ensure that your tree will stay as fresh and safe as when you bought it are questions often asked from Christmas tree producers. Here is some useful advice:
When buying your tree, do a freshness test. Grasp a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward you. If the tree is fresh, no more than 5-10 needles should come off in your hand.
Once your tree is purchased, keep it in a sheltered, unheated area such as a porch or garage to protect it from the wind until you are ready to decorate it.
Before installing the tree in your home, cut the butt end of your tree 2 centimeters (1 inch) above the original cut and immediately place the tree in a tree stand that holds a minimum of four liters of water.
Do not leave your tree without water-check the water level of your tree stand every day to ensure that the tree never runs out of water. A new tree will absorb 4 liters of water on the first day and will thereafter consume about one liter of water per day. If your tree runs out of water (for a period exceeding two hours), make another straight cut across the base of the trunk. Water is important because it prevents the needles from drying and dropping off and maintains the fragrance of the tree.
In addition, keep your tree away from heat and draft sources like fireplaces, radiators and television sets. Test your light cords and connections before hanging them on the tree to make sure they're in good working order. You don't want to use cords with cracked insulation or broken or empty sockets. Also be sure to unplug the lights before you go to bed or leave the house. Never overload electrical circuits.
The Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association recommends using tree stands that can hold six liters of water or more.
Christmas Tree Safety
Always choose a freshly cut tree. To test a tree, strike the stump down on a firm surface. If needles fall off, the tree is too dry.
Consider buying a live tree instead. You can plant it later to enjoy it for years to come.
When you are ready to set the tree up cut off 1/2 to 1 inch from the bottom of the tree before placing in the stand which should be filled with hot water (not boiling, but around 130-160 F) as soon as the tree is set up.
The tree could absorb as much as a gallon of water the first day.
Use wire or nylon cord to secure the tree to the wall or ceiling to prevent it from being knocked over by children or pets.
Place the tree away from heat sources and, of course, from sparks and open flame.
Always keep the tree well watered. Check and refill often.
Use only noncombustible decorations.
Check and replace any worn or damaged light sets. It is a good practice to replace any set that is more than four or five years old.
Use only U.L. or F.M. approved light strings; Spot or floodlights should only be used on an artificial tree; NO CANDLES!
Avoid overloading electrical circuits or creating "octopus" connections.
Make sure there is an operational smoke detector installed nearby.
Do not burn tree branches in the fireplace-it could throw off a large amount of heat and cause a fire. Christmas trees also cause an oily soot which may damage the fireplace.
Don't get carried away with tree size! Choose a tree at least one foot less than the ceiling height. Room is needed to place the tree in the stand and place decorations on top of the tree.
Make sure the bottom of the tree is long enough to be placed in the stand. About an inch must be cut off the bottom when setting the tree up in the home.
The tree should not be wilted. Also run your hand over the branches. The needles should not come off, break, or be brittle.
Check for insects. Shake the tree or use compressed air to blow them out.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM MY FAMILY TO YOURS