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The Perkins Journal
Perkins, Oklahoma
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December 5, 2013     The Perkins Journal
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December 5, 2013
 

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Home Thursday, December 5, 2013 401 S. Main St.. Stiliwater A & Garden ,405"372.1647' 800.678.2235] ' 77s2 51 Living Christmas Trees I thought today I would righteous choice. One day revisit an old column on a friend challenged me with living Christmas trees his perspective that growers (the kind you plant after of cut Christmas trees were the holidays), but was sur- just as much a part of the horticulture industry as I (a nursery manager) was. Cut trees were well cared for, lovingly sheared to perfect their shape and contributed to the global balance while alive. The growers were essentially farmers, harvest- ing a portion of their stock each year for market. So I have purchased both cut and live trees, but still find myself looking at live trees for the choice of genus and species is usually greater though not all are adaptable to Oklahoma's harsh summers. By far the most common potted evergreens available in Oklahoma are junipers. They are tough, adaptable and big strides have been made in breeding selections that have more to offer than the local, overpopulated juniper known as Eastern Red Cedar. I have never however met a juniper that wasn't prickly to the touch and for me this is a deterrent for planting one. Although not the classic Christmas tree with strong, horizon- tal branches suitable for ornaments, junipers can be decorated with ribbons, popcorn, garlands, etc. A few pines are fre- quently found in the potted tree selections. Pines grow fast but have a few more diseases to watch out for once planted in the yard. Excellent drainage, wise positioning of sprinklers and proper fertilization will help pine purchasers from having buyer's remorse. Also, be aware that most pines (save Loblolly and Swamp) prefer a slightly cooler summer. I do think it is relatively safe to plant pines and pray we don't have 115 summer. Those wanting a live tree have to reduce its time indoors to a minimum. Seven to ten days is pre- ferred, not to exceed two weeks. Of course as with any tree or plant, position it away from a heat vent or sunny window for its indoor stay. Indoors, live trees lose moisture through their needles quickly; excessive water to the roots does little to help. Lightly misting the tree is a better solution, but one would need to forego the lights and certain deco- rations to mist. Soon after the celebrat- ing is finished, the live tree needs to be reacclimated to the outdoors. If the days are a moderate 500-60 that is not a problem; if the temperatures are freezing or below, the tree should adjust slowly. Consider moving it into a garage or unheated porch to help with the transition. Plant the tree shortly after the New Year (assuming the ground is not frozen) and, be aware of what you are planting. Potted trees may be B&B with soil or mulch spread over the top of the ball. Often the soil within the burlap ball is heavy clay. If the burlap is removed completely the clay will fall free and pos- sibly break the few roots contained therein. To plant these B&B, I like to dig the hole wider but not deeper than the bali's size. Remove the root-ball from the container and loosen the burlap from around the trunk of the tree. It should unfold to a square. Use the four comers to lift and lower the root ball into the hole. Cut away excess burlap from the sides and refill the hole with plant- ing mix or compost and of the original soil. When watering, remember B&B trees will establish feeder roots along the soil surface the first year of growth; deep roots regrow, but not as quickly. prised to find I had never broached the subject in thirteen years of garden columns. I'll change that today, for it is a subject close to my heart. In case you haven't fig- ured out, I love trees. I love selling them, pruning them, removing weed trees, plant- ing unique trees; evergreen or deciduous I am hard pressed to think of a tree I consider worthless. Yes, I do my share of tree clear- ing but I try to balance it by planting others. I love the beauty of sawn lumber but have been arrested and fined for protesting the logging of old growth redwoods: I guess I'm as contrary as vegetarians wearing leather, and yes, I ride both sides of the fence when it comes to Christmas trees. I used to be a purist--only living Christmas trees would do; be they potted or ball & burlap (B&B), whether one foot tall or eight, live was the only Some companies grow evergreen trees in root- control bags. Be aware, the open-topped, dense, poly fabric is not biode- gradable. Use a razor knife to cut and remove the bag completely before planting. Do not break the roots up further. Simply place the tree into a hole slightly larger than the ball, and backfill maintaining the same soil depth. My love of trees is trumped by my love of cozy Christmas lights. One year, deciding not to deco- rate, my father purchased me a 2' fiber-optic tree with bendable branches. (I think he got a 2 for 1 deal from a mail order house.) I scoffed in my heart, but for more years than one plugged that little tree imposter in and enjoyed it for the season. Whichever tree you choose to express your holiday joy this year, please be safety minded and, be blessed! Proper care of your poinsettia will keep it colc,rt00al all winter Fe'ffi;figs Signal the from the store. Keep your that, they start dropp]ng so that it runs out of the holidays like the presence of poinsettias. This exotic import (from Mexico) is as common to Christmas as .... :' ' By Keith Reed turkey is to Thanksgiving. With proper care, your poinsettia can not only provide beautiful color through the winter, it can also make a statement in your outdoor garden next summer. First of all, avoid expos- ing the plant to cold tem- peratures or drafts. This includes bringing it home plant away from excessive cold or hot locations, such as near appliances, fire- places, ventilating ducts, or near doors. If possible, the plant should be kept at tem- peratures between 68-70 F. In other words, those plants located just inside a breezy door of a retail outlet might not be your best choice to begin with. Poinsettias like bright light and need at least six hours of indirect light per day. When they don't get leaves, which makes them unattractive and harder to keep alive. If you find your poinsettia beginning to wilt (and you've ruled out a water issue), take care not to overreact to a low light situation by overdoing it and placing them in direct sun. Compare thiS to our winter skin being exposed to a hot July sun; it's simply to intense a change for the plant to adapt to. Proper moisture is the third key to keeping your poinsettia from premature death. Your plant should not be waterlogged or allowed to completely dry out. Poinsettias will wilt and drop leaves at either !i! 5 iiiiii::ii:iii  i i ii:/i/il i : extreme. The soil (techni- cally incorrect as there is zero "soil" in the container) being used for containers these days is extremely lightweight and can dry quickly so consistency is an important component of watering. Water the plant when the surface is dry to the touch. Put enough water in the pot bottom, but do not allow the plant to sit in water for longer than a few minutes. We will follow up after the first of the year with some tips on successfully transitioning your poinset- tia to the outdoor garden when spring arrives. For more information of this or any other horticul- tural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticul- turist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at keith.reed@ okstate.edu, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6 th in Stillwater. Tips for keeping your pets safe this holia, y season By Trisha Gedon The ornaments are coming out of storage. Christmas carols are waft- ing through the house. The smell of the live Christmas tree fills the air. The holidays bring out much anticipated excite- ment for everyone in the household. Unfortunately, all of the merriment may be a health risk for your pets. Dr. Elisabeth Giedt, director of Continuing Education, Extension and Community Engagement at the Center for Vet- erinary Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University, said there are a number of things pet owners need to keep in mind in order to help assure a safe holiday for the furry members of your family. "It can be a lot of fun to get ready for the holidays, but all of the new things now in your home can be of great interest to your pets. Ribbons, Christmas trees, strings of lights, ornaments, tinsel, candles and holidays plants such as mistletoe and poinsettias can pose a threat to your animals," Giedt said. "You can still put these things out for the holidays, simply use caution, just as you would when baby proofing a home." For many families, the Christmas tree is the cen- terpiece of holiday drcor. It is important to keep your pet from chewing on a live or artificial tree because the needles are sharp and can cause irritation in the pet's mouth. The needles also can disrupt the digestive system. It is not just the needles that can cause problems. The water in the tree stand can contain toxic chemicals such as fertilizers, insecti- cides and flame-retardants that were used on the tree prior to harvest. Use a tree skirt to help keep your pets away from the tree stand. The bright lights and shiny ornaments also can be hazardous to your pet's health. Inquisitive pets can pull the light strings off the tree and become entangled in the wires. Another hazard is a pet that chews on the wires. This can result is problems ranging from burned mouths to death by electrocution. "If your furry friend won't leave your tree alone, con- sider using some sort of pet barricade or gate to block access," she said. "You may even consider putting the tree in a child's play- pen. Something else you can want to think about is actually securing the tree to the wall. If your pet would happen to jump on the tree, this would prevent it from falling over." While festive ribbons and bows make beautiful presents under the tree, they definitely can pose a problem for pets. Curious pets may eat the package decorations, which can cause an intestinal obstruc- tion that may require sur- gery to remove. Be sure to keep candles and potpourri pots up high and out of reach of pets. It is not just holiday decorations that can cause health risks for pets during the holidays. Many holiday foods can be dangerous as well. "Chocolate, especially dark or baking chocolate, can be dangerous, or even deadly, for your pets," Giedt said. "Chocolate contains toxins that cause issues ranging from mild stomach upset to seizures and death. Other foods to avoid include grapes, raisins and macadamia nuts. In addition, rich fatty foods can cause your pet mild stomach irritation to a severe condition known as pancreatitis. This often requires hospitalization and can cause death." For families who like to include their pets in gift giving, make sure the gifts are appropriate for the animal. Avoid toys with squeakers or bells inside because some pets will tear the toy apart and could easily ingest these tiny parts. Again, this could cause an intestinal obstruction. "Our pets are such a big part of our families and it's understandable want- ing to include them in all aspects of your holiday celebration," Giedt said. "However, just as you take precautions with small chil- dren in potentially danger- ous settings, it's imperative you do the same for your pets." ---t ......................... i + ...................................  ......................................................... l- ........................  ..... , ............