The journey of the Christmas tree

Posted on November 21, 2017 by Andrew

Christmas is fast approaching — this means decorating, gift buying and choosing the perfect tree. But have you ever stopped to think where your tree has been before it sits amongst the others, awaiting its Christmas fate? Together with Compost Direct, gardening experts and retailers of compost, we look at where Christmas trees originate from and compare real and artificial trees.

Where does a Christmas tree originate from?

If your home is in the UK, it is likely that your Christmas tree was grown in the same country. There are many wholesale Christmas tree farmers in the UK and most of their produce goes to garden centres and supermarkets in the country. UK Christmas tree sales accumulate to £280m on average and three quarters of these are home grown.

The most popular Christmas tree is the Nordmann fir tree. This type of tree has soft foliage and glossy green needles, it’s a perfect tree for decorating. But before you hang tinsel and baubles off its branches, where did it all begin?

The first thing that Christmas tree farmers do is take seeds from cones of mature trees and sow them in beds of soil or compost. A protective sheet is placed over the top to prevent any damage from frost or sunlight. For the first two years of their life, weed control is essential to eliminate any competition for moisture, nutrients or sunlight.

After growing for three years, the seedlings are transported to plant beds for two years. This is until their root system is strong enough to be planted into a field. Christmas tree farmers can have hundreds of trees in one field, and must look after them all.

The trees must be given a lot of care and attention over the next seven to eight years. This is to ensure they grow in the right way and are suitable to meet customer demand. This is done by trimming the sides of the tree regularly to maintain the classic Christmas tree look; it can be cut in different ways to grow into a ‘full’ or ‘open’ tree. Bud-rubbing is another practise that farmers must do which is where the buds are removed from the top row of branches to enable the side branches to further develop – this results in a thicker tree.

Before the trees are harvested, farmers sift through the trees and place coloured ribbons on the trees to code for different sizes and price brackets. In total, it takes around 12-15 years from seed to harvest!

Real or artificial?

Despite the many years of investment that farmers put into growing the perfect Christmas tree, many people opt for artificial trees.

When looking at Google search trends over the past year, it appears that the popularity lies with artificial Christmas trees — 14,800 searches were made for these compared to 9,900 for real Christmas trees. However, this could be due to the purchase process of each (some fake trees can be bought online).

Real trees come in a variety of shapes, sizes and species. There are Nordmann firs, Blue spruces and more. One advantage of grown trees is that, unlike artificial trees, you can choose a tree suitable for your own home and know that no one else will have one the same.

When looking at expenses, it is likely that a real tree will cost more than an artificial one. Moreover, an artificial tree will last you around 10 years whereas a real tree will only last a few weeks.

Many are convinced that the harvesting of real Christmas trees is harmful to the environment as it is cutting down a plant. However, these trees are a crop and it is not dangerous to cut them down. Unlike artificial trees, real trees are biodegradable too – reducing their carbon footprint further.

Alternative to purchasing a real or fake tree, you could grow your own. Commit to the years of cultivation and this profitable crop could be a great investment!

https://swain.ces.ncsu.edu/2016/12/journey-of-a-christmas-tree-from-the-field-to-your-home/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/12/23/business-takes-years-cultivate-inside-world-christmas-tree-market/

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If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

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