Since my last article, we have all endured the Black Friday and Cyber Monday onslaught.
As an update, my daughter still has her heart set on a hermit crab (Santa does not deliver live animals, however, no matter how big or small.), and my son has changed from a gecko to a “Syma X1 4 Channel 2.4G RC Quad Copter” – otherwise known as a “remote-control helicopter that will soon crash into the side of the house just like the last three.” But perhaps it’s a safer bet than the reptile.
And with those requests, the holiday season has begun.
The next step is to journey into our national forest to find ourselves a tree. As a child, I remember walking through public lands in search of the glorious tree – fir, spruce or piñon pine, depending on location and elevation. There was that one year, perhaps in the 1980s, when the family went experimental and decorated a ladder. It may have been a (metaphorical) tree, but it didn’t quite hold the same sentimental (and olfactory) value.
The most common tree to grace our living room always was the piñon pine (pinus edulis), and it was always too big for the space. Clark Griswold of “Christmas Vacation” fame had nothing on my dad. These piñons were guy-lined to the walls and frequently took more strands of lights than the circuits could hold. The technical difficulty of placing the angel on the top of tree may have even required ropes, harnesses and my mom on belay.
OK, maybe it wasn’t that dangerous.
These trees became fixtures of home décor – an overgrown houseplant, if you will. And with proper care, my parents were able to baby these trees and keep them green for what seemed like months. I may even remember a tree standing on St. Patrick’s Day.
OK, maybe it wasn’t that long.
But if you want to keep your tree looking healthy for weeks, follow these simple steps:
Before placing the tree in the stand, make a new cut at the end of the trunk, a couple of inches above the original one. If possible, get the tree in water as soon as possible.
Don’t be afraid to give the tree lots of water, as a newly cut (or purchased) tree can take up to a gallon of water during the first 24 hours. So check the reservoir level frequently and don’t allow the water level to go below the base of the tree. When this happens, the base will dry out and form a resin over the cut end, greatly reducing its ability to absorb water.
Watering the tree can be a challenge once you get the tree skirt and presents around it, so buy a funnel and a couple feet of vinyl tubing. Loosely tie the tube to the trunk of the tree and when you need to water the tree, simply place the funnel in the tubing, allowing the water to run into the tree-stand reservoir.
Place the tree away from any direct sun or heat (radiators, heat vents, fireplaces or even television sets) as this will quickly dry out the needles.
Lastly, make sure you recycle your tree. The city of Durango and La Plata County will offer multiple drop-off locations throughout the area.
email@example.com or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.