It’s kind of funny how celebrations enable what would ordinarily be considered odd actions to become normal. Take Christmas for example. Christmas makes it okay to cut down trees and then stand them up in our houses. There is a whole host of in-depth tradition and reasons as to why they end up in our homes, but there is also a life story behind each and every tree. For that reason, this week, I’m going to step away from the world of home inspections, maintenance and repairs and reflect on how a once living tree from the great Canadian outdoors embarks on a journey to my living room every year.
Every Christmas tree starts its life off as a seed that is harvested from a cone. Of course it’s possible to harvest seeds from wild cones, but the Christmas tree industry has evolved to the point where seeds are collected from cone orchards. These orchards produce seeds from trees that are selected for their individual qualities.
Next, the seeds are planted in a seed bed to produce “seedlings”. Seedlings are nursed for one, two or three years until they are moved for the next stage of their lives. They take on a new name, “transplants”, and are placed in a second nursery bed where they reside for another year before they are lifted and transplanted again where they will stay for one, two or three years. During this time their root systems and stems grow to the point where they will have the resilience to be moved to a commercial farm and grow for another 6 to 12 years and reach their desired market height.
While on the farm, a transplant faces competition for space, nutrients and moisture from other plants. As well, just like other growing things, protection from insects and disease is a must.
Store bought trees usually have awesome tapered figures. Shearing begins when they are as young as two years old. After that, shearing is an annual event that increases the foliage and develops inner branches.
The annual Christmas tree harvest is well underway now. The trees have been identified and tagged in the field where they are cut and baled. By the time they are picked up to be transported to market the typical Christmas tree has been worked on as many as 30 times. Half of Canadian Christmas trees are exported and your tree will be one of 6 million harvested annually in Canada.
There are more than 450 Christmas Tree Growers in British Columbia. They have been kind enough to provide an online U-Cut Tree Farm Locator where evergreen trees are grown for use as Christmas trees; the trees may be cut, or dug up and sold as living Christmas trees.
For more tips for selecting and caring for your Christmas tree click here.
Hugh Cairns welcomes your questions, comments and suggestions. Contact him through www.subject2homeinspections.com
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