Cookies with Santa and Christmas tree care

By Tony Nye - OSU Extension

I am probably on the “naughty” list as well as thousands of others after watching that titanic struggle called The Game on Saturday between Ohio State and that team up north. Now that December is here it is truly time to get into the holiday spirit. If you have any young ones around next weekend, I might recommend you take them to the Clinton County Fairgrounds for Cookies with Santa. This event is hosted by the Ohio State University Extension Clinton County 4-H program.

The event will be held Saturday, Dec. 10 from 9-11 a.m. in the Expo Center at the fairgrounds. Besides cookies, there will be photo opportunities with Santa, cookie decorating, crafts and letters to Santa. If you have more questions, contact the Clinton County Extension Office at 937-382-0901.

While you are in attendance be sure to ask about 4-H and what it is all about. I personally think 4-H is a great opportunity to start getting connected to agriculture but there is so much more to experience. 4-H is a non-formal educational, youth development program for youth, age 5 to 18.

There is a lot of fun things to learn while being involved in 4-H. Youth can participate through clubs, camps, and some short experiences. Projects can provide experiences with vegetable gardens, and flowers, animals, and robotics but also other things like learning to sew your own outfits and learning to cook, environmental sciences, computers, and projects involving pets like dogs, cats, and other small animals. Other projects could include photography, beekeeping, archery and shooting sports, forestry, leadership, electricity, creative arts, small engines and so much more. Really the sky is the limit to what you can do and learn through a 4-H experience.

For more information about getting involved in 4-H contact Tracie Montague at the Clinton County Extension office at 937-382-0901.

While we are on the topic of the holidays, I am sure many already have the Christmas tree up or will be planning to do so very soon. Many people want the fragrance and memories of a fresh cut Christmas tree in their home. Once you have selected the perfect tree, how can you care for it to keep it fresh as long as possible?

Some of us may travel to a tree farm to cut our own but many times we will get a freshly cut tree from a tree lot or garden center. Starting with a fresh tree is essential to good needle retention and tree keepability. It is important to understand pre-cut trees may have been cut weeks before you see them. To test for freshness, run your fingers along the branches, the needles should feel flexible and not fall off. The fresher the tree when you take it home, the longer it will last in your home. If you are not able to get your tree up right away, be sure to keep the tree in a cool, protected spot such as a garage, with the cut end in a bucket of water.

Make sure your tree gets enough water. Do everything to maximize water uptake and minimize loss of water from the tree. A fresh tree generally takes up about a quart of water for every inch of trunk diameter. Choose a tree stand that holds enough water, often a gallon capacity is necessary for a seven-foot tree. And make sure the stand will easily accommodate the diameter of the trunk without shaving the sides of the trunk. The outer layers of the trunk take up the most water so removal will decrease water intake.

It is always good practice to recut the base of the trunk. After an initial cut, resin dries and begins to clog the water absorbing tissues. Removing ½ – 1 inch assures good water take-up. Make a cut straight across the bottom of the trunk, not on an angle or in a V-shape. Fill the stand with plain water with no additives. Check the water level daily and add water to make sure the trunk remains submerged.

Keep the tree away from heat sources. Heat from fireplaces, heating vents, radiators, and even direct sunlight can dry out a tree. Turn off tree lights when not attended and consider LED lights that produce less heat.

A fresh well cared for tree will last about 3-4 weeks in the house. Monitor the tree for dryness. If the needles feel dry and brittle and break off or fall off easily, the tree is dried out. And it is time to remove it from the home.

Tony Nye is the state coordinator for the Ohio State University Extension Small Farm Program and has been an OSU Extension Educator for agriculture and natural resources for over 30 years, currently serving Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.

By Tony Nye

OSU Extension