Yes, it is that time of year again.
The time when you drive down the road and see house upon house decorated for Christmas.
Of course, there are many items that are included in a person's Christmas decorating arsenal, but the most common one to think of is a Christmas tree.
The history behind the Christmas tree varies greatly depending on which information source you look at.
The University of Illinois Extension state that Christmas trees can be traced back to the ancient Romans. The Romans would decorate their trees with small pieces of metal during their winter festival in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. In comparison, the National Christmas Tree Association states that the first written record of a decorated Christmas tree was in 1510. It is said that in 1510, the men of the Latvia merchants' guild decorated a tree with artificial roses. No matter what your opinion is on the true origin of the Christmas tree, or how you prefer to decorate one, there is no question that you might need a refresher on selection and care for your tree in the coming days.
Selecting a tree can be as difficult, if not more than decorating it. Before you even leave home, decide where you are going to put the tree and measure the spot you plan to put it. When you are picking out the tree, remember that a fresh tree will have a healthy green appearance with a few browning needles. If the tree is already cut, raise it a few inches off the ground and drop it onto its base. During the process, only a few needles should fall off if the tree is fresh. When you get home and are about to bring the tree inside, make another fresh one inch cut and place the tree in a sturdy stand that holds water.
If you don't want to buy one already cut, you can go to a local farm, choose your own and cut it. If you opt for this option, you should be aware of the Indiana Fresh Brand Christmas Tree Guide available at your local Purdue Extension. This guides gives you a list of locations around the state where you can purchase your Christmas tree. When you go to one of these locations, remember that most farms prohibit pets on their facilities. However, they will allow you to take pictures.
When it is time to cut the tree, generally, it is best done when two individuals are participating. The individual doing the cutting should lie on the ground while the helper holds the bottom limbs up. As the tree is being cut, the helper should tug on the tree lightly to ensure the saw does not bind. This tugging should be applied to the side of the tree opposite the cut.
Once you have cut down the tree and checked out with the farmer, it is time to head home. Before you leave the parking area, remember to cover your tree with a tarp so to prevent it from drying out. Remember once you are home, make another fresh one inch cut and place the tree in a sturdy stand that holds water. A good rule of thumb is that for every one inch of diameter the trunk is, the stand needs to hold one quarter of water. When decorating, remember to test your Christmas lights before putting them on your tree and avoid using any worn electrical cords. If you are interested in energy efficiency and need new Christmas lights this year, you might want to take a look at the LED Christmas lights that are currently being offered.
As the Christmas season passes, remember to water your tree and be aware that the best time to take your tree down is before it dries out. This way you will avoid having many dead and dried out needles on your floor. Yet, remember if you cut if properly and water it like you are supposed to, a Christmas tree can live at least five weeks before drying out.
This time of year is a great time to get together with family and friends and share in a lot of good memories. While celebrating, don't forget to take amazing pictures of your Christmas tree.
If you need any further information on selecting or caring for your Christmas tree, contact your local Purdue Extension Office by calling 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County. If you would like to contact me directly, I can be reached at either of the two numbers listed or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
* Dec. 7 -- 4-H Scholarship Workshop, Purdue Extension Clay County Office, 7 p.m. (open to 4-H members grades 10-12, RSVP by calling 448-9041),
* Dec. 8 -- Nuisance Wildlife, Purdue Extension Clay County Office, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (costs $2 per person, RSVP by Dec. 1 by calling 448-9041),
* Dec. 10 -- Income Tax Management for Farmers in 2009, Purdue Extension Clay County, 7:30-9:30 p.m. (RSVP by Dec. 1 by calling 448-9041),
* Dec. 10 -- Crop Management Conference, Beef House in Covington, 9 a.m.-2:45 p.m. (cost $15 plus additional fees for PARP and other credits. RSVP by Dec. 4 by calling 812-462-3371), and
* Dec. 14 -- Last Chance PARP Program, Cloverdale Community Building, 12:45-3:30 p.m. (cost $10).