Thursday, September 16, 2010

Growing a Christmas Tree - Fun Facts

The Christmas tree you'll trim this winter is probably older than you think. Perhaps you’ve noticed – among all those tall, full, beautiful firs – some smaller “baby” trees lined up in neat rows in the fields of your favorite New Hampshire Christmas tree farm. Those babies are actually 5 years old or older. And the tree you’ll trim this holiday season was likely planted as a seed a dozen years ago or more.

Here’s what it takes to grow a Christmas tree:

First, cones are harvested from mature trees – sometimes trees as old as half a century or more. These cones are dried and sifted to extract the seeds.

Next, the seeds are planted in soil that has been prepared with fertilizer and peat moss, much like a home gardener would ready a vegetable bed. Seeds are planted in the fall and germinate the next spring. After 3 years in a seed bed, the young seedlings are moved to a slightly larger transplant bed, which allows them room to spread their branches a bit.

When they’re 5 years old, these future Christmas trees are moved from the transplant bed and into the field, where they’ll remain in their tidy rows for the next 7 to 10 years. Every tree in the field is fertilized and hand-pruned each year to produce that perfect Christmas tree shape.

Finally, of course, your Christmas tree is cut fresh, ready for trimming and the joys of the holiday season.