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Keep That Christmas Tree Safe!

Sorry, but I'm going to be the latest hammer in the anvil chorus to acknowledge—grudgingly—that the holidays are bearing down on us like an angry bull who sees Donald Duck spread a red picnic blanket in the wrong field.  

I do so because I refuse to be late with my Christmas tree tips again this season! More and more of you are getting your trees into the house earlier every year, and so I want to deliver my safe tree directions NOW—while everyone can still benefit.

Your Three-Part Secret "Recipe" for a Fireproof Tree!

This time of year I get a lot of requests for special recipes that are "guaranteed" to make a tree fireproof when the specified witches brew of household chemicals is added to the water. The endlessly photo-copied, worn-out sheets describing these concoctions have great "urban legend" backgrounds: A rocket scientist at {pick your company: Dow, Monsanto, the old Allied Chemical; I've seen them all} came up with the formula; and its "guaranteed" to make your tree fireproof!
I love meeting people seeking this out in person, because I can then ask them what exactly they think the actual "guarantee" is? And who they're going to chase after to collect whatever that is when this nasty soup kills their tree or the fumes make them sick.
Please forget these things—they don't work and they can be really dangerous. Trees don't just 'burst into flames'. They dry out because people don't water them—and no chemical is going to prevent that; most will likely accelerate it. Actual fires are caused by using lights with bad wiring and overloading extension cords and outlets. Soaking your poor tree's butt in 20 Mule Team Borax, Snapple, Pam and dissolved Twizzlers ain't gonna help when your wallboard starts burning. But I do have a REAL secret recipe: A mixture of three powerful ingredients, guaranteed—by me—to make your tree absolutely fireproof! Water, water, and water.

Water Number one:
When you get a cut live tree home, use a bow saw to remove an inch or two from the bottom of the stump and then sit that stumpy thing in a big bucket or tub of cool water—not in its stand yet— for at least 24 hours; preferably 48. And keep refilling that bucket! At least some of these trees will have suffered through droughts where they were grown, and will drink up a lot of water.

Water Number two:
 After it's been able to drink all it wants, place it in its stand and never let that reservoir dry out. Check it several times a day, especially early on, when the warmth of the house will have it drinking heavily. Some of these trees will suck up gallons, and if that stump dries out for just one day, it loses the ability to take up more.  

Water Number three:
Oh—that's for you. Drink a big glass and be happy you don't have a toxic waste lagoon under your Christmas tree.

"Santa's Magic Water Spout"
Keeps Your Tree Watered While You Stand Up
Of course, number two—keeping the water reservoir filled—is where most people fall down on the job because it is such a drag crawling around on the floor down there. That's why I recommend "Santa's Magic Water Spout": A hollow bell-shaped cup with a three-foot long tube underneath. You pour water into what looks like a nice ornament on the tree and it flows down to the reservoir, allowing you to water the tree while standing up. You'll often find this nifty and inexpensive gadget where cut trees are sold, and in lots of hardware and home stores. Heck, you can even order it online. And if you're at all handy, you can make one yourself—just shove the hienie of a little funnel into the top of a rubber tube and run the tube down to the water; paint the funnel a festive color if you're feeling like Martha and strap it to a branch (Santa's Spout uses a Velcro loop.)

Recipe for a Needle-Free Floor: Fresh Cut & Seven-Up
Want to have a live tree AND a needle-free floor this season? Go to a Christmas tree farm and cut a really fresh one yourself—or have the attendant do the "timmmbbbeerrrrr!" part. Maybe they cut and you yell. Anyway, whether you 'cut it yourself' or buy it pre-cut, give it a good shaking when you get it home—pound the bottom end on some concrete to get rid of all the dead needles before you bring it into the house. Then cut that inch or two off the bottom of the trunk—yes, even if you cut it fresh an hour ago—and let it sit in that big container of water for 24 to 48 hours.
Then bring it in, fill the reservoir with half water, and half Seven-Up (the sugar and citric acid are excellent natural preservatives) and keep it filled. So yes, I did have a secret recipe after all.

Special Advice for TRULY live trees
Planning on getting a truly live tree for the holidays? A balled and burl aped one you'll plant outdoors afterwards? It's a great idea—but plan to set it up outdoors for the holidays (like on a porch or deck) or be prepared to get it in and out of the house FAST. Truly live trees should spend no more than four days indoors, and that's in a room you can keep well below 60 degrees. If that tree gets all warm and toasty, it will think Spring has arrived and start growing again—then it will perish when you deliver it into the clutches of Old Man Winter outdoors!
But here's the BEST tip of all: Dig the planting hole for that tree NOW (or on the next warm day)—because I guarantee that your soil will be froze solid as steel after Christmas. And have lots of help when you move the thing around—those big root balls can weigh several hundred pounds.

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