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Farm to floor: Search for the perfect tree

Find a forest of evergreens at nearby tree farms. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

Christmas tree farms open the season Friday

It’s a Sacramento holiday tradition: A short trek to find the perfect tree.

Think of it as farm to floor. Forests of fresh firs, pines, spruces, cedars and even redwoods await customers at Sierra foothill tree farms (and a few farms in the Valley, too).

An hour from Sacramento, Apple Hill is dotted with several growers. You can cut your own or take home a pre-cut tree.

Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is opening day for many of these farms. With more stormy weather in the forecast, check road conditions before heading out.

Tuesday’s snow, which blanketed much of the foothills, “set” the needles on the trees, according to growers. That way, the trees will hold onto their needles longer. The moisture also freshened up the foliage.

That snow also makes the tree search feel wintery – a wonderful touch when thinking “White Christmas.” Several growers offer hot cider or hot chocolate along with their trees.

Find a map and suggestions at the El Dorado County Christmas Tree Growers’ website, .

For folks who would rather keep their search in the Sacramento Valley, check out Silveyville Christmas Tree Farm in Dixon. Celebrating its 40th year, this farm opens Friday, too. Find it at 6248 Silveyville Road, Dixon, and online at .


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For week of Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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