Friday, November 28, 2008

Think about recycling now.

OK, we all know that since they're a plant and 100% biodegradable, a Real Christmas Tree can be recycled, and more than 90% of them are from what we can tell. But recycling is done on a very local level. It's not uncommon for each county or even township/municipality to have their own recycling program.

And we also know that PVC and metal -- the materials fake trees are made from, not to put too fine a point on it -- are not biodegradable and can't be recycled.

So, as you head out this weekend or later to get your farm-grown Real tree, because you care about the environmental impacts of the products you use, think ahead about your local Christmas tree recycling information. If you see an article or flier or anything providing dates, locations and instructions on how to recycle your Christmas tree, do like I do and print a copy or clip it out and keep it handy. That way, it's no big deal after Christmas to make sure your tree gets recycled.

Here's an example ...where I live, in St. Louis city, they made a change this year and don't want trees put into the yard waste dumpsters. Instead, they have 3 city park locations designated as drop off points. No big deal, it might take me an extra 5 minutes this year. The point is, you can probably find something similar in your area, listing dates and locations.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tree Questions

FINALLY!...Christmas tree season is here, well I guess Friday it really starts. Some good questions and feedback starting to come in.

From: Stacey
Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 9:45 AM
Subject: locating potted trees

I was reading an article about contacting you to find out if there are programs near where I live to purchase a live potted Christmas tree instead of a cut tree so that I may replant it. We are located north of Detroit Michigan and our zip code is 48069.

Can you assist? On your website I was only able to find cut trees.

Thank you in advance.


Hi Stacey.

Our database unfortunately does not have a searchable field for that service. However, if a farm/nursery offers rootball trees for transplanting after Christmas it will be in their detailed listing of services/products offered. Try a local business search (yellow pages or something similar) for nurseries. Many of them are not in our database because Christmas trees are a small part of their overall business, but they do specialize in landscape trees. Also, read the bottom section on care for a rootball tree

From: Caryn
Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 1:30 PM
Subject: please give us hope for a REAL tree this year!

My husband and I have been married for seven years, and have spent every Christmas together with a real Christmas tree. We moved to Utah from Georgia three years ago and have had a horrible experiences
each Christmas with our trees getting completely dried out too soon.
Last year it was so bad that we had to take the tree out of the house a week before Christmas. In GA, we almost always picked our tree from a farm the weekend after thanksgiving. We have chosen fresh cut trees from Home Depot twice, with good results. My question is, is it possible to buy a fresh tree the weekend of Thanksgiving and still have it smell and look great Christmas day? When is the best time to purchase a tree? We follow all of the care tips each year, but still end up with the sorriest looking trees ever. What are we doing wrong?

Hi Caryn.
I don't think you're doing anything wrong. Remember, Thanksgiving jumped forward 5 days this year to the 27th, so it's only 4 weeks until Christmas. I think the thing to do, for anyone, is to be very selective about the retailer from whom you buy a tree. I don't know a lot about your climate specifically, but dry air and sun (even if it's cold, although to a lesser extent) can dry a tree out faster on a retail lot if not properly stored and displayed by the retailer.
You said you had good experiences with a Home Depot...places like that which have garden centers tend to be better because they are experienced in dealing with plants. Look for a retailer who stores extra inventory of trees in the shade, out of the wind. If they spray water on the ground below displayed trees each day, that extra humidity helps trees.
You know, one other option to look into possibly is to buy a tree online from a farm direct and have it shipped. I do this each year and then you get a tree that was just harvested in the last 7 days or so. Not all species can be shipped and 7 foot is the maximum height, but it's another option.
Another thing to think about is the display conditions in your home itself. Again, sun is bad...don't display a tree in front of a window which gets a lot of sunshine each day, or if it is, keep the shades down until it's dark. The relative humidity in your home can have an impact, so homes with gas or electric furnaces which tend to have very dry air inside can be inhibitive to the amount of time the tree retains moisture. If that's the case, a humidifier may help.

From: MLindaG@
Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 11:37 PM
Subject: Purchasing a tree

I have a question about purchasing a tree now at the end of November but not putting it up until Dec. 17th. We would like to put it on our porch (we live in PA.......cold and snowy here now). We are going to Florida for a week and would not be able to put it in water. Can we give it a fresh cut and place in water in the house when we get back and will it survive and be OK. We are afraid to wait until the 17th to purchase as we always get a nice tall 13 ft. tree - we might not find one..........also the college boys are home for Thanksgiving and can help us pick it out........get it on top of the van and haul it home.


Hi Linda.

I can't tell you the likelihood of 13 footers still being around by Dec 17th...maybe at a choose and cut farm if they have trees that big, but if you do want to go ahead and buy one now, here's what I'd recommend. First, if it's netted up, keep it in the netting. This will slow the rate of moisture loss by exposing less of the tree's foliage to air. Set it in the largest bucket you have (minimum 5 gallons) filled with water within 3 -5 hours of having a fresh cut off the base. Store it somewhere other than inside the home, unless you plan to turn your heat WAY down while your gone. A garage or even a porch that doesn't face North would be better. Sun, wind and heat will speed up the rate at which the tree loses moisture. So set it somewhere it won't be exposed to any of those three things. Then when you get back, even if there's still water in the bucket, go ahead and make another fresh cut to expose new plant tissue, and put it in your stand for display, then cut the netting off.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Don't be fooled by allergy doctor

Heres' the concern we have with reference to the Christmas tree mold issue. We would never dispute the results; we're quite sure the device did measure an increase in mold spores during the time frame. But we take issue with what the allergy doctor did with that measurement.

1. He called it a study, which, with no control group measured and compared, is misleading at best. As pointed out in the White Paper, standards for scientific research were not adhered to and therefore, the conclusions should not be referred to as a "study."

2. He never presented his findings in front of a panel of peers, either medical professionals or mold experts. He merely left documents with some charts laying around at the conference.

3. He proactively contacted TV stations and newspapers offering to be interviewed about his new "study" he "recently presented" showing that Christmas trees cause allergic reactions to mold. And during these interviews told consumers if they had a farm-grown Christmas tree in their home longer than 10 days, they would suffer from post-nasal drip and other ailments.
That's highly unethical in our view.

What was his motivation for outreaching to news media? Was it purely altruistic pursuit of scientific/medical research? Was it to drum up patients/business for his practice? Was it to beef up a research grant application? Was there any tie to artificial Christmas tree companies? We don't know the answer, but find the whole thing rather suspicious, as did the scientists who signed the White Paper. As their conclusion states:
"The authors of this presentation linked allergenic fungal spores to real Christmas trees without sufficient scientific proof. The data presented are clearly preliminary and the conclusions made by the authors are not supported by sound science due to shortcomings in the experimental design....Due to the aforementioned shortcomings, the conclusion of the study is questionable. Further studies on Christmas trees in indoor environments are necessary to address the public concerns about airborne fungi in the near future."

Obviously, I am writing with a clear bias...won't deny that. But I ask that you understand where our sensitivity comes from. People who sell artificial Christmas trees have spent many years and major dollars trying to convince the public to buy an artificial tree instead of a farm-grown one by telling them they are likely to be allergic to the real thing.

So, if you see any news reports about a "Mold Study", understand where it comes from and that it has no scientific basis. Read the full White Paper on this page

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Here come the 'tree fire' stories!

It's that time of year when more than 30 million homes in the U.S. will decorate with a farm-grown Christmas tree. It's also a time when consumers will read or see the "Christmas tree fire story" and be scared out of buying a real tree.

The growers and retailers of farm-grown trees have been working with fire safety officials, scientists and testing labs for years to provide scientifically proven steps on how to properly display a harvested tree to ensure high moisture content. These tips can be found at

Hopefully people will follow our care instructions and not be fooled by dramatized news stories. What do I mean by dramatized news stories? Have you seen the clip from the Tonight Show?

Often, consumers are told that "Christmas trees can cause a fire in a manner of seconds." This is highly erroneous and unethical. A National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) published report on Christmas Tree Fires shows just the opposite. First of all, a cut Christmas tree has NEVER, ever, ever in history CAUSED a fire. Fires are caused by sparks, flames, heat or chemical reactions.

Secondly, if you look at the NFPA data, you see that a confirmed average of 111 fires per year between 2002 and 2005 in the U.S. were ones in which a cut tree was the first item ignited in a residential fire, both accidentally and intentionally. During the same period of the report, an average of 28 million cut Christmas trees were displayed. Divide 111 by 28 million. You get 0.0000039, or 0.0004%. You'd think that number would be MUCH higher based on the caterwauling on local action news broadcasts.

Thirdly, another interesting item in the NFPA report is that fire officials state clearly that artificial trees also catch on fire every year. Currently, no testing lab or standards for those products to meet in order to print the words "flame retardant" on their packaging exist. They're really just words on a box. Fake trees catch on fire every year. According to the NFPA report, 28% confirmed residential fires where a Christmas tree was the first item ignited were a fake tree. But consumers are seldom told this.

Please don't be scared by people with misleading information and typical news media scare tactics. They're not interested in getting you the facts, they're only interested in getting you to watch the evening news.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Think you'll be in the Christmas Spirit?

Trees for Troops kicks off next Wednesday with the collection of farm-grown trees in Ohio which will be boxed up and begin a long journey to the Middle East and Afghanistan. Hiopefully they will bring a little Christmas spirit to our fellow citizens serving in our military currently deployed away from home.

I've been to that tree collection event before…it is quite a neat thing to see. About 300 trees are dropped off at the state Dept. of Ag from growers all over the state. An Ag inspector looks over every tree for signs of bugs, some are rejected because they don't want non-native species being sent to other locations, but most pass inspection. Then they are pulled into a 1'x1'x8' box by a baling machine. Labels are slapped on, and some decorations made by school kids are put into the boxes with the trees. They are loaded up onto a Fed Ex truck and away they go.

We'll be having results from a poll measuring the "mood" or Christmas Spirit of Americans later this month. Will probably post results on November 24, just before Thanksgiving, so watch for that if you're interested in whether a bad economy will make people not want to celebrate Christmas. As I said last week, at least as far as trees are concerned, we don't think it has any impact.

I had a couple people ask this week about how to do a Christmas tree that still has roots and can be planted after Christmas. That's a great option if you need landscape trees in your yard anyway…it's like killing 2 birds with 1 stone. But you do have to plan it out. It's not as easy as you might think and mortality rates can be high when transplanting a tree. Read over our general tips here and also ask questions from the local farm/nursery where you buy it. Our tips are general, but transplanting a tree in Florida is drastically different than doing so in Minnesota, especially in January.

I expect we'll start getting questions pretty soon…so feel free to write them in and contribute comments to the blog.