A Real Christmas Tree-Now what?

Today’s post is courtesy of my husband, Gary Emmett.  This piece ran as a column in our local paper on December 4, 2008.  For those who don’t know, Gary has a degree in Horticulture and has worked in the field, both retail and for a Gardening Chemical Manufacturer for the past 15 years.  He is MY secret source for information.  (The recipe is mine.)

It has been exciting to be back in Lovell and especially for the Thanksgiving Holiday. It was a time to see family and friends and also a time to reflect on how we are blessed in our lives and what we are truly thankful for.

It is also a time for the tradition of getting a family Christmas tree. It actually would be the first time I took my family to the mountains to cut our own Christmas tree from the forest. Having worked in a greenhouse/nursery, all we had to do was walk into the greenhouse and pick out the best looking, flawless trees that we could find, that had just arrived from Oregon. Oh the ease of shopping for a tree.

Moving back to Lovell has definitely brought changes and adjustments to our lives with the way we used to do things. Some adjustments I just shake my head at and have to say this is Lovell. However, I was looking forward to going to the Big Horns and cutting our family Christmas tree: a first for my son.

When I got the permits from the Forest Service office, I received an informational guide about what trees were able to be cut, how to cut the tree and also where they could be and couldn’t be harvested from. No problem!

As the day came and the holiday turkey and pies were all taken care of, we as a family, along with my brother, Alvin and his family, headed up the mountains to cut a tree. Having a saw in hand and the right permits too, we were on the prowl for the perfect mountain grown tree.

Trekking through the snow didn’t detour my desire to find the perfect tree. But I just wasn’t finding it, however, I did find next year’s tree. I know that sounds funny but I did: Now to get everyone to leave it alone. Thank goodness for my niece, Marianne, she found our tree: The perfect sub-alpine fir tree that would fit in our new house.

I prefer the characteristics of the sub-alpine fir tree to that of some of the other native evergreen trees. But my likings might not be the same as yours, because I am sure your family has the perfect tree too.

There are some very important tasks that should be followed to help ensure a fresh cut Christmas tree stays just that: FRESH. The most important is water. Make sure that your tree has plenty of water and that you put it in water as quickly as you can. My tree drank a gallon of water in the first 24 hours. Check the water availability daily. A tree will seal itself off, if not given enough water, thus the tree will then dry out prematurely. Also leave the aspirin in the medicine bottle, the soda drinks in the fridge and the Vodka in the liquor cabinet; these are all “home remedies” that don’t work. Water is still the best solution. Don’t add anything to the water.

If there is a ceiling fan overhead, or a heat register near by, reduce the air movement around the tree. This will help prevent premature drying out of the needles.

And don’t place your tree close to a wood burning stove, open fireplace, or near your entertainment systems. Excess heat will dry your tree out very quickly.

For the last couple of years, we got away from a fresh Christmas tree in the house and went with an artificial tree. They really aren’t the same. What fun and joy and memories we have missed out by not having a real tree for Christmas.

I am writing this passage while sitting in the front room, under the influence or the spell cast by the mesmerizing lights and sounds of the season. Yes I am fortunate to be back here in Lovell. Family, friends, and even the changes that life can bring, should always be a part of what we are thankful for no matter what time of year it is.

Party Sausage Dip

2 lbs Jimmy Dean sausage

16 oz Sour Cream

16 oz Cream Cheese

1- 4 oz can of Green Chilies

2 Lrg Tomatoes

In a large skillet, brown sausage and drain grease off. Reduce heat; add cream cheese and sour cream. Stir until blended together. Add Green Chilies.

It is best to allow the mixture to blend and mellow together in a slow cooker for a couple of hours. Just before serving, dice the tomatoes and stir into the dip.

Serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy

I like to use a combination of plain and spicy sausage (1 lb chub ea). If you like black olives you can add those too.

Gardening Tips I Found in My Grandma’s Cupboard

dscf1441.JPGI told you earlier this week that I would share some treasures that I found in my Grandmother’s cupboard. We are in the process of moving into my grandparent’s home and there is a lot of remodeling to do, both on the inside as well as the outside. It is amazing the things you find while undertaking such a project!

So, what did I find? I found some old gardening tips taped inside her old cupboards. Now, I don’t know whether to necessarily recommend these tips or not, but they are fun to read. I do know that Grandma always had beautiful plants.

Here are the tips I found:

Treatment of gladiolas in spring

Peel and soak bulbs with 2 TB Lysol to 1 Gallon Water. Soak 1 hour to overnight.

In the fall, dig and dry bulbs. Sprinkle generously with Seven Dust. Put in storage (cool). DO NOT FREEZE.

Amaryllis Bulbs

After the blooms have faded, the stalk should be cut off 2 inches above the bulb. But do not disturb the foliage. Keep the pot moist and leaves growing until the Amaryllis can be planted outside.

After all danger of frost in the spring, put the bulb—pot and all—into the ground, buried up to the top edge of the rim of the pot. Remove the dried leaves. Nutrients found in fish emulsion or bone meal are excellent when used at the manufacturer’s recommended amounts. No blooms will occur during late spring and summer, only leaves. This is the time when the flower bud is formed within the bulb.

Around September 1st or just preceding anticipated frosts in your area, lift the pot. Scrape excess planting mix from the top of the pot, and store in a dry, cool (40? to 55? F.) place. DO NOT WATER. Approximately 6 weeks before blooms are desired, remove old leaves and move pot to growing temperatures of 65? to 75? F., and begin to water. Then keep moist at all times. After the Amaryllis blooms, repeat the cycle as before.

Christmas Tree Saver

1 Gallon water

6 TB sugar

6 Aspirin, crushed

Green food coloring

Cut ½ inch from the bottom of tree. Shave bark and cambreum off the depth of water. Keep watered at all times.

If you use any of these, let me know how they worked. I would be interested in knowing how it worked out for you. If you have any other old tried and true gardening tips, leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear about them.