Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Keeping Your Christmas Tree Green

A few days ago, someone asked me what they could do to keep their Christmas tree fresh and green this holiday season. Here is what I told her:

Picking the right Christmas tree depends alot on what type of tree you want. But what's most important in choosing a tree to last through the season is picking one that is healthy, green and doesn't have any brown or dry needles.

Once you've figured out the type of tree you want (douglas fir, noble fir, etc), look for a tree that is full and has a nice straight top branch (to put your tree topper on). You don't need to worry too much if the tree leans a little bit; the folks at the tree lot can cut an inch or so off the bottom to level it out. Look for one that doesn't have any "holes" in the branch volume. Make sure that when you touch the needles, they are soft. You don't want a tree with dry needles or needles that fall off when you touch them. Take a small branch between your thumb and forefinger and lightly pull; if brown needles are the result, or alot of needles fall off, look for a fresher tree.

Once you find your tree, have a lot worker take off at least an inch off the bottom. Doing this will expose fresh wood and will allow the tree to drink up water, helping it to stay fresh. Keep in mind however, that you need to get the tree in water as soon as possible after it's cut!

When you get your tree home, always put it in a container of some sort so you can keep it watered. A tree that has no water will dry out in about a week to 10 days and there you'll have a real fire hazard on your hands. A Christmas tree stand with a bowl is ideal. Put your tree in the stand, making sure it's steady. Now get ready to decorate!

Once you've decorated your tree, place it where it's going to stay for the season and fill the bowl with water. Do this AFTER you decorate so there is no danger when stringing the lights (remember, water and electricity don't get along together!) Keep it filled with water throughout the season. NEVER let the bowl dry out! It only takes about 6 hours of not having any water before the tree will form a thin layer of sap at the trunk bottom that will keep water from being absorbed. If that does happen, drill a few holes (at water level) into the trunk side to allow water absorbtion again. The first day or two your tree will drink aLOT of water, so check it frequently.

Here are a few other tips for keeping your tree fresh throughout the season;

Before putting the tree in the bowl, drill a few holes in the bottom of the tree trunk, about an inch or so deep. This will help the tree to continue to absorb water.

Keep the tree away from direct sunlight, and away from south and west facing windows and heat vents. These places will tend to try the tree out faster than if it is placed in other areas.

Use SeaResults Micronutrient Solution from The Happy Gardener in your tree water. This will help the tree receive nutrition during the season, thus helping to ensure it stays green and fresh.

There are many potions and gimmicks that people use to help keep their trees green, and some of them may actually work. But the bottom line is, if your tree is not watered or is allowed to dry out, it's a goner sooner rather than later.I hope these tips help. Happy gardening and Happy Holidays!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Weather Confusion

Well here we are again in November. For alot of folks, the 1st snow of the season has already fallen, there is a chill in the air all day, cool breezes blow the leaves and they are getting ready for winter.

Here in Southern California, it's a whole different story. Our weather changes day by day. For the past week, we've had some nice days, running in the upper 60's (at least in my area), a little cloudy and we even had a spat of rain one day. It kind of made me believe fall was really here. However, by tomorrow our weather will get back up into the 80's and 90's, with the Santa Ana winds a blowin'. That will last for a week or so, then we will be back to cooler and chilly at night. And so it goes throughout fall.

It seems like in fall, ol' mom nature can never make up her mind when it comes to weather in Southern California. "Expect the unexpected" is becoming the theme for fall because we never know what we're going to get. The rapid changes play havoc on allergies and as you walk down the street you constantly hear folks sneezing, wheezing and sniffling. They have a cold, you say? I doubt it. More like allergies due to with all the weather changes. And the poor migraine sufferers here have an awful time this time of year. The constant changes in the air pressure play havoc with their heads and it's a miserable time for most of them.

How strange it seems to have the weather changing like it does. Through most of the year we know what to expect...sunny and mild. Seriously! That's the normal weather forecast! Truthfully it does get a bit boring, but I'm not complaining! But when fall comes around, it just confuses us Californians and we walk around carrying umbrellas, wearing jeans over shorts and tying our coats around our waists over our tank tops just so that we are prepared for anything. Since we wear flip flops most of the time, shoes are never a problem unless it snows.

So today I am enjoying the last of the mild weather. Tomorrow the Santa Ana's will start to settle back in and the allergies will run for cover as the dust blows everywhere. Let's hope the fires stay away this time because we simply can't go through that again!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What To Do In Your Garden In November

November is time for your plants to wind down and take a rest for the winter months. Many plants are going dormant for the season. There are, however, plants that do well in the winter months in the warmer areas of the country. Here in Southern California, pansies and sweet peas are wonderful additions to any winter garden and grow well in our climate.

There are a few things you should do this month:

1. Finish cleaning up your garden. Take out the annuals that have died and put them in your compost bin. They’ll return to your garden in a few months as nutritious mulch and your garden will thank you for it.
2. Keep your container gardens watered. Although the weather has cooled, that does not mean they don’t get very thirsty. Remember, being in containers means they dry out quicker. And just because it’s rained, don’t think you can ignore it for a week or so!
3. Keep your yard looking sharp by raking the leaves that are strewn across it. Put them in the compost bin..
4. If you haven’t already done so, fertilize your lawn and do it now! October is the perfect time to fertilize, so while in November it’s a bit late, it’s not too late. Wait much longer though and you won’t get the full benefit of fertilizing.
5. Identify any plants that a frost could harm and make a plan of action so that when the first frost comes, you’re ready. Be sure to cover them for warmth if need be.

Doing just a few things like this in your November garden will help you to have a healthy, beautiful garden come March and April.

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener