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Chat about Christmas trees with Lyn Walther

December 14, 2006

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Lyn Walther

Lyn Walther of Strawberry Hill Christmas Tree Farm will answer questions about how to choose, cut and care for live Christmas trees.

Moderator:

Lyn Walther from Strawberry Hill Christmas Tree Farm is here to answer questions about real Christmas trees. Thanks for being with us, Lyn.

Lyn Walther:

Glad to be here and to have this opportunity to share one of the special aspects of celebrating Christ's Birthday. We grow real trees for families to share in their new and old traditions for their celebrations.

Moderator:

I'm Mindie Paget, Journal-World arts editor, and I'll be moderating this chat.

We'll start with our first question, but please continue to submit your questions as we go.

Teapot9:

Would you recommend chopping down your own tree or buying one? And what tree do you believe has that "tree smell" the longest?

Lyn Walther:

Cutting your own tree is by far the "freshest" tree one can get. However, buying a tree off of a "lot" is sometimes the only available source. When choosing a pre-cut tree try to determine that the needles are flexible and green. In any case cutting 1/2" off of the stump and putting your tree in plain water and keeping it well watered with probably give you a satisfactory tree for the Christmas Season.

Lyn Walther:

One of the Christmas trees available here in Kansas that has the nicest Christmas smell, in my estimation, is the Fraser Fir. However, it must be imported from Wisconsin, PA, Oregon or Washington. Unfortunately for us Kansans they will not grow here. We are too hot and too windy and dry. I find some of our customers like the Scotch Pine that we grow. Maybe, I'm around them too much and don't have that same sense. To each his own.

Moderator:

Is there a way to prevent a proliferation of pine needles on the floor and tracked throughout the house?

Lyn Walther:

Guess what? A fresh cut tree will shed the fewest needles vs. a precut tree. Also, by putting your tree stand on the tree outside and leaving the netting on it until you get it inside will eliminate some needles. I'm assuming that the seller of your tree has put it on a shaker to eliminate some of the naturally dead needles before netting the tree. One or two other solutions: KEEP YOUR TREE WELL WATERED!! and using a "tree bag" to pull up on your tree before removing it will be of help. I assume you already are aware that your real tree should not be placed near a fireplace, heater, radiator or drying drafts,etc. They will last best in a cooler room.
Our fresh cut Christmas Tree is put up on Christmas Eve. I have been known to hang Valentines on it in February! (Another advantage of having a really fresh harvested tree!)

Moderator:

How often should I water my fresh-cut tree, and how much water should I use?

Lyn Walther:

It is best to check the water level every day. The first day or so you may need to add water 2 or even 3 times particulary if it has been a "dry" year before harvesting. They can really be thirsty!
It is recommended that you have a quart of water available for every inch diameter of the trunk. Little "coffe cup" stands are not a very good choice. Pick stands that hold large amounts of water.
By the way, plain water is the best choice! Several Universities ran studies and found plain water is the best. In fact, some so-called tree preservatives actually dried out the trees quickly.

Moderator:

What do I do if I find a critter living in my tree when I get it home?

Lyn Walther:

Laugh! Depends what kind of critter. If it is a spider squash him. If it really is a squirrel close all doors to other rooms and leave the front or back door open!

Moderator:

We're going to wrap this up. Is there anything else you want to add, Lyn, about tree care? And please tell us where your farm is and when it's open through the holiday season.

Lyn Walther:

One major point, if I may; Real Trees are biodegradable, recyclable and replenishable. We plant one or two tree seedlings for every tree harvested as most tree growers do. The City of Lawrence has an excellent program for recycling trees. Watch the Lawrence Journal World for the dates that tree pick-ups will be made.

Lyn Walther:

Strawberry Hill Christmas Tree Farm is located on 6th Street (HWY 40) west of Lawrence one mile. We are open M-F 1:30pm to dusk (5ish); Saturday 10-dusk;Sunday Noon to dusk. We have free hayrides out to the fields, hot spiced cider and "black & white" cookies in the gift shop. We have wreaths, swags, grave appointments and centerpieces available as well as consignments, gifts, etc.
We do give school and group tours by appointment.

Moderator:

Thanks so much for being with us today, Lyn. Good luck at the farm this season, and happy tree-hunting to all of our readers!

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