Selecting and Caring for Fresh Christmas Trees

Featured, Lifestyle

By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent

In my opinion, there is nothing like a fresh Christmas tree in the home. Artificial trees look more
natural now than when I was growing up, but they are not the same. Choosing a fresh tree
should be a fun family affair, but you also want to get the best value for your money.

So let’s start with how to select a fresh tree. First, determine where in your home you will
display your tree so that you will be able to tell what size and shape you need. Next, if possible,
cut the tree yourself. This will provide the best opportunity to have a fresh tree throughout the
Christmas season, but you still need to care for it like you would any other “live” tree. If you are
choosing a pre-cut tree, you need to do a freshness test on it before you bring it home so hold a
branch about 6 inches from the tip then pull your hand toward the tip, allowing the branch to slip
through your fingers. Very few green needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh.
Here’s another freshness test: lift the tree a couple of inches off the ground, then bring it down
abruptly on the stump end. If the tree is fresh, outside green needles should not fall off in
substantial numbers. Remember, inside needles do turn brown and shed naturally every year.

Now let’s look at how to care for a fresh tree. The most important thing to remember has to do
with water. These trees need water daily, just like a fresh bouquet of flowers. You’ll want to
remember to keep plenty of water in the stand at all times. If you are choosing a stand, be sure
and choose one that has a big water storage area. A Christmas tree may absorb a gallon of water
in the first 24 hours it’s up and between two pints to a gallon of water a day thereafter. Check
the stand daily and supply fresh water as needed. If the water supply runs out, a seal will form
on the cut surface of the tree trunk and the tree will not absorb water and dry out. If the water
runs out, a new cut should be made.

When a tree is first cut, a seal of sap occurs naturally over its stump which keeps moisture in the
tree. It’s important to break that seal to allow the tree to take up water needed to keep it fresh
throughout the holidays. Once you’ve selected your tree and you have it at home, make a fresh
cut across the base of the trunk, ¼ inch up from the original cut. Put it in a bucket of water and
protected from the sun and wind until you get ready to move it indoors. If you are selecting a
balled and burlap tree, first make sure that the tree will grow in our area and second do not let the
root ball dry out as the tree will not survive when planted outside.

When you do bring the tree indoors, position it away from heat sources such as fireplaces,
radiators, heat vents, and television sets. When it’s time to put the lights on and trim the tree,
first test your light cords and connections before hanging them on the tree to make sure they are
in good working condition, without cracked insulation or broken sockets, and make sure all the
sockets are filled. Once you get the lights on, then it’s time to finish trimming and enjoy, but
don’t forget to unplug the lights when you go to bed or leave home. Never leave a tree with the
lights on unattended!

For more information, contact me at the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.

A Noise in the Woods


We’re acquainted with the phrase: “if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it still make a noise?” Extrapolate the question: “If CNN is still producing their lies, does anybody still watch it?” While we cannot possibly equate the sound of a tree crashing in the woods, with the frustrated screams of impotent dismay coming from the staff and interviewers of the Crazy News Network, (CNN).” The parallels of dying organisms remain the same. They all fall.

A dead tree usually falls of its own accord when its lifeless roots finally release their hold on the sweet earth and the once vibrant and living organism falls, finally to lie lifeless and supine on the forests floor. It will slowly decay eventually turning to dust, adding what nutrients it has to the benefit of new growth in the whole forest.

Not so with collapsing news organizations like CNN. They make a lot of noise when they fall whether you want to hear it or not because everybody talks about it. CNN is in denial supported by MSNBC, ABC, et. al.. They have rotted long before their demise and their fall will never nourish the remaining networks still left standing in the forest.

Exactly what is the poisonous source that is killing CNN? why it’s the political neanderthal, Donald Trump, sloshing his un-presidential way through the swamp of excepted practices of Presidential leadership. Why, he’s not presidential at all. He tweets, he tells it like it is, he trolls reporters and journalists, revealing their weakness’s, he talks with the Russians, he is, according to CNN’s Brian Stelter, “dangerous” and a “fascists.”

A youthful Trump supporter, supposedly a computer savvy teenager, became the target of a rabid CNN act of character assassination. Oh, the horror, a mere child ridiculing the once great CNN with a Trump video meme. CNN’s negative reaction was shocking and another blow to their reliability. In defense, CNN’s Brian Stelter, in another almost apoplectic breakdown of his sanity, organized another panel of leftists syncopates to defend the networks questionable “outing” of the young blogger, by threatening to reveal his identity.

Predictably, because they are Leftists, CNN attacked their other critics comparing them to the hundreds of blog threats of violence allegedly received by Leftist journalists. This marks the start of their own victimization claims. When Leftists claim victim status, and their conspiracy theory can’t be debunked, then perhaps it’s no longer just a theory.

John Avlon of the Daily Beast, in CNN’s defense said:“We’re the real victims, we're going to swarm on– via social media at the very least with real threats to try to create an aura of confusion. And it has to be predicated on a fundamental lie to distract from the original issue, which is the President of the United States tweeting out a meme that shows violence against a news outlet. Then we'll do that and we’ll try to play the victim and get the upper hand. And we’ll use social media swarm tactics to do it.”

Is that what is now taught in schools of journalism or is this merely the leftover, embedded corruption of the Clinton machine that suborned everything decent in its path, people, institutions, even leadership of the FBI?

The awful legacy of the Clinton’s is coming into clearer view. The Clinton News Network, like the Clinton foundation it protected, is rotten to its roots. When the collapse does come, the noise will be frightening. Don’t stand beneath a falling tree! Remember, freedom is the goal, the Constitution is the way. Now, go get ‘em!

Arbor Day: Time to Tackle Hemlock Trouble


Now, while the leaves are still off deciduous trees and evergreens are easy to spot, it’s a good time to check hemlocks for signs of the hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive insect attacking the trees in every north Georgia county within the native hemlock range. Millions of hemlocks have already died; many more are infested; and ALL are in danger without timely intervention.

While the bugs themselves are too tiny to see without a magnifier, their white cotton-ball-shaped egg sacs about the size of a peppercorn are visible this time of year. They may be present by the hundreds or even thousands on the underside of the branches at the base of the needles. Given that each egg sac can contain 30 to 300 eggs, and there are two generations a year, these prolific and voracious piercing-sucking pests, if left untreated, can kill even a large hemlock in as few as 3 to 6 years here where our southern winters aren’t cold enough to set their population back significantly.

But there is hope. In addition to cultural practices that help maintain overall plant health, chemical treatments can provide extended periods of protection (an average of 5 years). They have proven highly effective in controlling adelgids, safe when used according to the label, economical especially compared to the cost of losing the trees, and easy enough for most property owners to do themselves. There are also a few professionals who can provide the service.

The adelgids will begin hatching soon, so now is the time to take action. All who care about the beauty, environmental health, and economic vitality of our mountain communities are urged to join the fight to save these magnificent trees.

Training is available through nonprofit Save Georgia’s Hemlocks for anyone wanting to learn to treat their own hemlocks and/or help save trees on our public lands. Please visit or call the Hemlock Help LineSM 706-429-8010 for information.



By Donna Shearer, Chairman, Save Georgia’s Hemlocks

Have the recent storms left you with trees that need pruning?


By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent

Compared to other parts of the state, we have been fortunate to receive a fair amount of rain lately. The rain has been very beneficial to our crops, gardens, and landscape, but as you know, there has been a downside. The rain has come with storms and many trees have suffered broken limbs. Taking care of these trees needs to be handled carefully.

Before you begin any work, safety is the number one priority. Be aware of your equipment. If you are using a power saw, have you read the owner’s manual and been trained on how to use the equipment? Are the safety features working properly and is the chain sharp? Is the blade sharp on a hand saw, or other equipment that you are using? Loppers can also be sharpened and should be kept sharp to make your work easier and make a cleaner cut. Quite often we are in a hurry which is when accidents most likely occur, so please make sure you take care of these things before you start.

Bent limbs and trunks can snap in different directions when they are cut, so make sure you are cutting in the right place. It may require an extra cut to remove some of the pressure, but that time can be well spent as opposed to the limb jumping back in place and sending the saw back against you.

When working on trees that have broken limbs, keep in mind that the limb needs to be removed close to the trunk. If it’s a big limb, it may require a three cut process to prevent the bark from splitting down the length of the trunk. The first cut should be on the underside of the limb a few inches from the trunk. This cut should only go a third of the way through the limb. Next, move a few inches out and cut through the entire limb. The cut from the bottom will prevent it from splitting the bark down the trunk of the tree. The third and final cut should be done next to the trunk at the swollen collar area. This will help the tree heal over the area from the removed limb.

For smaller limbs, cut them back to either the trunk or a side branch. If a portion of a limb is left sticking out, it will usually die back to the side branch and will serve as a pathway for insects and diseases to enter the tree, so make a clean, close cut next to the trunk.

After you have removed the broken and damaged limbs, try to balance the tree by removing limbs on the other side of the tree. This will help the tree continue to grow strong and will give it a better appearance. When removing limbs, remember that a limb is stronger with a 90 degree crotch angle. This refers to the angle that a limb grows out from the trunk. The 90 degree angle means that the limb grows straight out from the trunk. Limbs that have a smaller crotch angle grow almost straight up and have a tendency to split when they get bigger.

Even with small limbs, make sure that the cut is clean and slightly angled so that water will not gather on the cut surface. This helps prevent disease and insects from invading your tree. Finally, it is not necessary to use wound paint if the cut is made properly. Wound paints do not prevent decay. Wound paint can actually disturb and disrupt the ability of the tree to seal off wound sites. For more information about pruning trees, contact me in the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.

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