Category: Techniques

Water your Christmas tree

Want to make your indoor Christmas tree hold onto its needles as long as possible? Water is the key. Water your Christmas tree as soon as you get it home, when you place it in a stand, and daily thereafter.

Christmas tree lot at Staehly Tree Farm, East Haddam, CT.

Christmas tree lot at Staehly Tree Farm inEast Haddam, CT.

Here’s how to care for and water your Christmas tree to make it last through the holidays:

  • Whether cut fresh or purchased pre-cut, trees need water daily – as much as a quart for every inch of trunk diameter. Do the math: a tree with a 3″ diameter trunk can drink up 3 quarts of water daily; one 4″ needs 4 quarts, and so forth.
  • Fresh cut trees should be placed in a bucket of water as soon as they come home. Pre-cut trees need an additional step – cutting about 1″ from the trunk parallel to the ground when upright – to allow the tree to take up water.
  • Avoid bruising the cut end and keep it completely submerged in water until ready to bring indoors.
  • Prior to bringing indoors, cut the trunk end again. Secure the tree in a sturdy stand that holds at least a gallon of water.
  • Once secured in the stand, fill the reservoir with water.
  • Check water levels daily, making sure the cut end is always submerged in water. I water our tree every morning while the coffee brews.

Why be so concerned about keeping the cut end submerged? If permitted to dry, the cut end will form a resin seal that prevents further water uptake. No water equals dry needles – a true hassle and serious fire risk.

A well watered tree is more likely to hold its needles through the holidays.

A well-watered tree is more likely to hold its needles through the holidays.

We have used the above methods for decades, with great success. Other tips to lead to a safer, better hydrated Christmas tree include:

  • cutting one fresh if possible,
  • holding off till mid-December to bring the tree indoors,
  • using low-heat producing lights,
  • keeping the tree from heating sources and vents,
  • and taking it down shortly after the holidays.

You can read more tips on how to treat and water your Christmas tree from the Connecticut Christmas Tree Growers Association, but these basic steps will help keep your tree fresh.

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Do coffee grounds benefit gardens?

As a daily coffee drinker and long-time advocate of composting, coffee grounds generated in my kitchen go into the compost pile. But, apparently, gardeners are increasingly using coffee grounds, collected from coffee shops, as mulch.

This is not a practice I had considered until I read Linda Chalker-Scott’s peer-reviewed fact sheets on this topic. As one of The Garden Professors, Linda is a huge proponent of science-based gardening information.

Her newest fact sheet, Using Coffee Grounds in Gardens and Landscapes, provides valuable advice for home gardeners. I strongly advise you follow the link and read the entire fact sheet, but here are a few of her points:

  • fresh or composted coffee grounds can be safely used as mulch, but no deeper than a 1/2″ layer and not on seed-starting beds as the grounds tend to reduce germination.
  • to prevent the grounds from compacting and limiting moisture to the soil, they should be covered with a coarse mulch of organic material.
  • coffee grounds are not always acidic and, therefore, should not be used to alter soil pH.
  • only composted coffee grounds should be worked into the ground as a soil amendment.
  • coffee grounds should compose of no more than 20% of the volume of a compost pile.
The Informed Gardener by Linda Chalker-Scott ... a must read for all gardeners.

The Informed Gardener by Linda Chalker-Scott … a must read for all gardeners.

Want to read more of Chalker-Scott’s science-based advice for gardeners? Check out The Informed Gardener. It is easy reading and pares scientific research against gardening and landscaping myths.


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