Celebrate with a real Christmas tree
There is nothing like the scent and beauty of a real Christmas tree to get your family in the spirit of the holiday, add to that the experience of cutting your very own fresh tree and you have a special holiday memory in the making. Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, encourages purchasing a fresh Oklahoma-grown tree this season.
"Real Christmas trees are easy to care for and environmentally friendly," says George Geissler, Oklahoma State forester. "Many Oklahomans are going green this year as they visit one of the many Christmas tree farms across the state to choose and cut their trees this holiday season."
This year, when debating whether or not to purchase a real tree, consider these facts.
--Christmas trees can be recycled into mulch and used in landscaping and gardening or chipped and used for playground material, hiking trails, paths and walkways.
--For every real Christmas tree harvested, two to three seedlings are planted in its place.
--Oklahoma Christmas trees are grown by local farmers on Oklahoma land that you visit to pick out your own tree. Approximately 85 percent of artificial trees sold in the U.S. are imported from China, according to the National Christmas Tree Association.
--A typical Christmas tree from an Oklahoma grower absorbs more than one ton of CO2 throughout its lifetime.
--There are about 150 acres in production for growing Christmas trees in Oklahoma. Each acre provides the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people.
--The top selling Oklahoma-grown Christmas trees are: Virginia pine and Scotch pine. Nationally top sellers are balsam fir, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, Noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine and white pine.
For more information on where you can purchase an Oklahoma-grown Christmas tree visit www.forestry.ok.gov/christmas-trees or contact the Oklahoma Christmas Tree Association at www.okchristmastrees.com.
Caring for a fresh-cut tree
Stand and water--Make a fresh cut trimming an inch or so off the base and immediately place in a bucket of water or your perfectly sized tree stand. Make sure the stand is big enough to handle the trunk without whittling the base; the outer layers are important for water absorption.
Thirsty trees--Fresh-cut trees can drink up to a gallon of water per day. Levels should be checked frequently to keep water above the base of the trunk.
Keep it cool--Place your tree away from fireplaces, heat vents and sunlight and keep room temperature cool. The lights you place on the tree are another source of heat so consider using miniature lights which put out less heat.
Electrical overload--Overloaded power outlets and faulty wires are the most common cause of fires during the holidays. Take a little extra care to check your lights and wires before lighting up your tree.
Pinch test--Wonder if your tree is still fresh? Just pinch a few needles and bend a branch. If it snaps easily or drops lots of needles it may be time to remove it from your house.
The gift that keeps on giving--Once your tree is removed from your house consider the many ways it can keep on giving: mulch for park trails, compost, improve fishing habitat in a lake or pond or as backyard habitat for birds by decorating it with peanut butter and bird seed pine cones.