Last winter's moisture helped this holiday season's crop of firs and cedars
Fresh Christmas trees already have arrived at local businesses, including The Plant Foundry, above, and Green Acres. For those who like to choose and cut their own trees, El Dorado County growers report a good supply. Courtesy The Plant Foundry
We’re still busy with Thanksgiving preparations but our attention has already turned the holiday page. Christmas trees have arrived in local stores and nurseries, and the scent of fresh evergreens has us craving a tree in the living room.
They may be pricey, but Christmas trees should be in good supply this holiday season. Just shop early, says the National Christmas Tree Association.
Wildfires in Canada and droughts in the U.S. have affected tree supply elsewhere in the country, particularly on the East Coast.
“Supplies are tight and some locations will sell out early, but there are enough real farm-grown Christmas trees for everyone who wants one to get one,” says the association. “Supplies of real farm-grown trees have been tight since 2016, but each year shoppers have been able to find a tree.”
In particular, trees should be in good shape and plentiful from El Dorado County growers. Last winter’s heavy snow and abundant moisture really plumped up the firs and cedars. Recent rain was just enough to refresh their needles and help them look their best.
In its 2022 post-holiday survey of tree shopping habits, the national association found that nearly 31% of all fresh trees were purchased from choose-and-cut farms. About 20% came from chain stores and almost 17% were purchased at nurseries.
Nationwide, the average price in 2022 for a fresh tree was $80. This holiday season in the greater Sacramento area, expect to pay $95 or more for a 6-foot noble fir.
Clustered around Placerville in the Apple Hill area, local growers traditionally open their tree farms to visitors the day after Thanksgiving and keep selling until sold out. That may be pretty fast; some El Dorado County growers reported they sold out in 2022 on opening weekend. For a map, details and directions, go to https://chooseandcut.com/.
Several Apple Hill farms offer apple treats or other seasonal goodies along with trees. Find a map and more information here: https://applehill.com/grower-cat/christmas-trees/.
City shoppers also should find a healthy selection of fresh trees, says the national association.
In the greater Sacramento area, fresh trees have arrived at many local nurseries including all seven Green Acres locations as well as The Plant Foundry and The Secret Garden.
Looking for a Christmas tree near you? Check out the tree locator map (and tree tips) at: www.itschristmaskeepitreal.com.
What about a potted living tree? Firs, pines and other conifers are not houseplants; it’s best if these trees’ days indoors are numbered.
If you decide to use a living Christmas tree, keep it outside in a sunny location and well-watered until Christmas week. This reduces stress on the young tree. Make its stay indoors as brief as possible before returning outside – and hopefully finding a spot where it can put its roots down.
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For week of March 3:
* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.
* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.
* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.
* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.
* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.
* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.
* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.
* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.
* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.
* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.
* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.
* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.
* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.
* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.
* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.
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