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Water is the key to a lasting Christmas tree

November 25, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY

While some are turning to artificial Christmas trees to avoid upkeep and stray pine needles, others say it just wouldn't be the holidays without the smell of a real tree.

Kimberly Reisinger, of Hagerstown, said her family has bought a freshly cut free from Good Spirits Tree Farm for the past four years. On Sunday, Reisinger, her husband, Duane, and their three children were at the farm on Old National Pike, about two miles outside Funkstown.

Reisinger said they were there to buy two trees ? one larger tree that she can decorate with breakable ornaments and a smaller tree that her children, Tigerlilly, Roden and Huddsen, can decorate.

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"Once we get them home, it's straight into water," Reisinger said. "And it always lasts that way until New Year's."

Christmas tree sellers and buyers said a tree will easily last through Christmas with constant watering. Mike Gagarine, who owns Good Spirits Tree Farm, said he tells his customers to constantly fill the tree stand with water.

"Water is the most important thing for a tree," he said.

Gagarine says he sells about 1,500 trees each season, and tells his customers to check the tree's water level each day.

"Trees are like fresh-cut flowers," he said. "They need constant watering."

For the first few days after a tree is cut, it is still alive, he said, and with immediate and constant watering, it can remain that way for about one week. Then, the drying-out process will begin, Gagarine said.

Once the sap hardens at the base of the tree and the tree begins to dry out, the process is irreversible, he said. A freshly cut tree, like the kind he sells at Good Spirits Tree Farm, can absorb several gallons of water each week, Gagarine said.

He's heard customers say they add sugar to the tree's water, but says there are other things that will help a tree last longer in a home.

"Keep it away from the heat source," he said. "Heat will make it dry out faster ... and it can catch fire, too."

Kenny Huffman, of Martinsburg, W.Va., was selling trees for Valley Farms Sunday off West Church Street in Hagerstown. He said the trees he sells there on Saturdays and Sundays are cut on Friday, so they are fresh.

He recommended keeping trees away from heating sources, like space heaters or a vents. Huffman said the type of lights put on the tree also can make a difference. Smaller lights, he said, will dry a tree out more slowly.

Boy Scouts of America Troop No. 15 in Hancock was selling Christmas trees Sunday in the Wal-Mart parking lot on Garland Groh Boulevard.

The group's Scoutmaster, Glen Smith, said the proceeds benefit the Mason-Dixon Council Boy Scouts of America. Smith said when a tree is sold, about one inch is cut from the bottom of the tree.

"That lets water in," he said.

Cheryl Parks, of Hagerstown, said her family always buys a real tree.

"We love the smell of it," she said. "It's just not Christmas without it."

Parks and her husband, Woody, and her daughter, Rachel Parks, bought a tree from the Boy Scouts group Sunday, and said they were about one week early doing so.

Still, Parks said that with constant watering, her family expects the tree will last through Christmas.

"Lots of water," she said. "Especially in my house because the dogs drink it."

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