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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Gardening to Distraction: Picking and caring for the perfect tree

  • Russ and Linda Gehrlein do it every year. Every weekend after Thanksgiving, the Gehrleins pick out their cut Christmas tree.
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  • Russ and Linda Gehrlein do it every year. Every weekend after Thanksgiving, the Gehrleins pick out their cut Christmas tree.
    I met the Rolla family November 24, the first day Rolla Optimist Club had their Christmas tree lot open in Kroger's parking lot off Highway 63 and 6th Street.
    "We come every year," said Linda Gehrlein, "it's become a family tradition."
    It takes the whole family, Linda said, including son Andrew, daughter Melissa and Melissa's husband, David Harden, to make the final choice.
    According to Don Olds, Rolla's Optimist Club has two kinds of cut Christmas trees this year:
    Scotch Pine, on the right of the lot, were grown in southern Missouri. Balsam Fur, on the leftside of the lot, are from Michigan. Both are from tree farms, where trees are pruned and raised for cutting.
    Olds said Balsam Fur trees tend to hold on to their needles longer and have more of a scent than Scotch Pine.
    Over the years when I had cut Christmas trees, they tended to be Scotch Pine, which according to my research, are the most popular trees for Christmas decorating.
    If you're going to get a live cut Christmas tree, measure the space where you are going to put the tree before picking one out. Trees seem smaller at the tree lot, and you don't want to have to chop whole tree sections off to make it fit.
    After selecting your tree, make a fresh cut to the base. The cut will help the tree absorb water and stay hydrated.
    No need to add aspirin or any other products; fresh water will keep your tree fresh.
    Also make sure you have a tree stand that fits; don't cut the tree base to make it fit the stand. The tree needs all the base surface it has to regularly take in water.
    A cut tree will absorb about one gallon of water the first day you have it in a stand.
    Make sure to keep the tree watered and check it daily. A cut Christmas tree on the average will drink 1-2 quarts of water a day.
    Don't place a tree next to a heating vent, fireplace or space heater. The additional heat will dry the tree out faster.
    Once you have lights on the tree, turn lights off when you're not around. Lights can get hot and become a fire hazard in a dry tree.
    Olds said Rolla Optimists sell between 500-600 trees every year. Proceeds benefit Optimist children's sports programs and scholarships.
    And the Gehrleins?
    After starting with a Scotch Pine, then looking at a Balsam Fur, the Gehrleins agreed on a 7.5-foot Scotch Pine.
    Charlotte Ekker Wiggins shares her garden-inspired gift ideas at http://www.gardeningcharlotte.com.

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