CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow." Not necessarily my personal sentiment, but I found myself singing along to the Muzak in the mall the other day.
Hearing the holiday songs made me open my eyes and see all of the holiday décor that (ugh) already decked the halls. And that made me look at the calendar and start to look at dates for getting the annual Christmas tree. With grown children, it's not as easy as "Get in the car, kids. It's time to get the tree." There are schedules to mesh.
We used to cut our own tree at our friends' farm (we miss you, Max and Bea). When they moved south, we went to different tree lots and to Capitol Market and found lovely fresh trees.
One year, when we were first in our new home, Max dug up a lovely white pine for us to use as a Christmas tree and then to plant in our yard. We didn't do anything right, and the tree didn't survive.
I've learned that there were steps we should have taken to ensure the health of our tree.
First, don't rush! The tree needs to acclimate to the home, so gradually introduce the living tree to the inside by putting it in the garage for a few days. Spray the tree with anti-desiccant/anti-wilt spray while it was in the garage. The tree should be placed away from heat vents.
If your tree is balled in burlap, put the tree in a large tub and mulch the top of the ball to help with moisture retention.
The tree should stay indoors only four to seven days, for optimal health. Introduce it back to nature slowly, again placing it in the garage between its time in the house and in your yard.
If you're planning to have a growing tree this Christmas, walk around your yard and plan where it eventually will be placed. Dig the hole now -- while the ground is soft and the temperatures are reasonable.
I ran across another good tip: place the soil from the hole in a wheelbarrow and park the whole thing in your garage, keeping the soil from freezing. It will make backfilling much easier when you plant the tree. The tree can be planted even if the ground is frozen.
Bob Whipkey of Whipkey Tree Farm in Charleston doesn't think bringing in live trees (those still with roots, to be planted outside later) is a good idea this holiday season.