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The Plant Doctor: Choosing holiday trees: Freshly cut, live, plastic?

I have to admit that the sight of millions of perfectly healthy pine trees, unceremoniously cut for use during Christmas, is rather difficult for a gardener who prides himself in keeping plants healthy.

But according to the National Christmas Tree Association ( name the issue and I can name an association! ) about a million acres of land in all 50 states are used to grow Christmas trees. It's fortunate that in our country we can afford this luxury; many countries could hardly afford the use of prime land for anything other than food crops.

Now for some interesting data: Each acre of Christmas trees provides the daily oxygen needs for about 18 people. In the U.S. we buy around 33 million Christmas trees each holiday season. Now for the better news: Christmas trees are a renewable resource. For each one cut, growers plant an average of two or three seedlings. In addition, most communities collect and mulch Christmas trees after the season is over - returning much of the valuable nutrients to the soil.

Plastic Christmas trees are a possible alternative, but keep in mind, that plastic also ages, and when it is time to replace the tree, the product is not renewable and in most cases not recyclable.

Some folk consider the use of a live Christmas tree . Sounds romantic, but alas, it really is not for everyone. If you select a container-grown or balled and burlaped tree as a possible candidate for your live Christmas tree, it probably will not work. When the outdoors tree is brought into an overheated, dry house the change in climate will usually place the tree in shock. The leaves fall off and the tree rarely recovers.

Norfolk island pine, monkey puzzle, palm, and fig are cultivated indoors, and so make a reliable selection for your live Christmas tree . They are probably not what you have dreamed about, but for many staunch conservationists, they are a fine alternative .

Zone -6- Monthly To-do list

* Add to your compost pile ... keep the pile moist.

* Complete planting of winter and spring flowering bulbs.

* Cut back on feeding houseplants (dormant plants should not be fed).

* Final call for planting, aerating and loosening lawn thatch.

* Complete the pruning process on your Rose bushes and protect them for the Winter season.By Harvey Goodman

I have to admit that the sight of millions of perfectly healthy pine trees, unceremoniously cut for use during Christmas, is rather difficult for a gardener who prides himself in keeping plants healthy .

But according to the National Christmas Tree Association ( name the issue and I can name an association! ) about a million acres of land in all 50 states are used to grow Christmas trees. It's fortunate that in our country we can afford this luxury; many countries could hardly afford the use of prime land for anything other than food crops.

Now for some interesting data: Each acre of Christmas trees provides the daily oxygen needs for about 18 people. In the U.S. we buy around 33 million Christmas trees each holiday season. Now for the better news: Christmas trees are a renewable resource. For each one cut, growers plant an average of two or three seedlings. In addition, most communities collect and mulch Christmas trees after the season is over - returning much of the valuable nutrients to the soil.

Plastic Christmas trees are a possible alternative, but keep in mind, that plastic also ages, and when it is time to replace the tree, the product is not renewable and in most cases not recyclable.

Some folk consider the use of a live Christmas tree . Sounds romantic, but alas, it really is not for everyone. If you select a container-grown or balled and burlaped tree as a possible candidate for your live Christmas tree, it probably will not work. When the outdoors tree is brought into an overheated, dry house the change in climate will usually place the tree in shock. The leaves fall off and the tree rarely recovers.

Norfolk island pine, monkey puzzle, palm, and fig are cultivated indoors, and so make a reliable selection for your live Christmas tree . They are probably not what you have dreamed about, but for many staunch conservationists, they are a fine alternative .

Zone -6- Monthly To-do list

* Add to your compost pile ... keep the pile moist.

* Complete planting of winter and spring flowering bulbs.

* Cut back on feeding houseplants (dormant plants should not be fed).

* Final call for planting, aerating and loosening lawn thatch.

* Complete the pruning process on your Rose bushes and protect them for the Winter season.

Questions or comments on gardening and plant care can be addressed to: The Plant Doctor, c/o Queens Publishing Co., 41-02 Bell Blvd. Bayside, N.Y. 11361 or e-mail Plant.doctor@prodigy.net

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