Even when the season seems overwhelmingly busy, it's worth the effort to buy a real Christmas tree. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Even when the holiday season seems overwhelmingly busy, it’s worth the effort to buy a real tree. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

I tried to get by with stringing lights on corkscrew willow branches to substitute for our Christmas tree last year. It did not go over well in our household.

Even when the season seems overwhelmingly busy, it’s worth the effort to buy a real tree, if nothing else, for that inimitable scent of fresh pine, not to mention the spirit of the season that trees can bring.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey again encouraged Iowans to consider choosing a fresh, Iowa grown Christmas tree to decorate their home this holiday season.

Here is more from Northey’s office:

“Selecting a fresh Christmas tree can be part of a great family tradition and is an opportunity to connect with an Iowa farmer and support the local economy,” Northey said.  “Iowa is fortunate to have more than 100 Christmas tree farms in all parts of the state, so everyone has the opportunity to get their own fresh tree to help celebrate.”

A directory of tree farms across Iowa is available on the Iowa Christmas Tree Grower’s website at www.IowaChristmasTrees.com.  On the site there is a “Find a Farm” link on the top left-hand corner of the page.  Besides the location of the farms, the directory also includes a phone number and hours of operation for each farm to assist in planning.

These farms devote over 1,500 acres to Christmas tree production in Iowa and as a result harvest approximately 39,500 Christmas trees each year.  The result is a $1 million dollar industry contributing to Iowa’s economy.

Following are tips to keep in mind to make your trip to a Christmas tree farm more enjoyable:
·        Be sure you know what size tree fits in your home, both height and width, before you leave. Trees always look smaller in the field and there is nothing worse than bringing a tree indoors only to find it’s too big.

·        Wear comfortable clothes, sturdy shoes, and gloves that you aren’t afraid to get dirty.  You are going to a farm!

·        Make sure the tree you pick has a straight trunk and will fit properly in your tree stand.

·        Fresh trees need water.  Once you get your tree home remember to check the water daily.  Trees can use up to a gallon of water daily.

·        Make sure you unplug any tree lights before you leave home or go to bed.

·        Remember – fresh cut Christmas trees are biodegradable! Recycle your tree after Christmas.

If you are not putting the tree up right away, store it in an unheated garage or some other area out of the wind and cold (freezing) temperatures. When bringing the tree into the house, cut off one inch at the base end and place the tree in a bucket of warm water.

“Follow these tips and your will be able to enjoy a beautiful, fresh and locally grown Christmas tree throughout the holiday season,” Northey said.