Joe Flynn, from Mountain Road, Clonmel, tell us what it takes to produce an Irish Christmas tree, and why you should choose one this year.
Few of us know that it takes 12 years to grow a 7-8ft Christmas tree from seed. Right now Irish Christmas Tree growers around the country are busy cutting, netting and distributing the 400,000 trees that will be for sale in Ireland this Christmas. Choosing the perfect tree is a cherished tradition in many families and understanding the process involved in growing a Christmas tree will make it even more interesting.
The Christmas tree starts life in a nursery as a seed, planted and nurtured for four years. From the nursery the 25cm tree is planted into suitable soil for a further eight years. Producing the perfect Christmas tree is a daily task for the grower - it will be hand fertilised, weeded and shaped to create the magical centrepiece we all love in our homes at this special time of year. At a glance it might seem easy to plant a tree and let if look after itself but the husbanding of a real Christmas tree is a year-round job.
Tree plantations provide a wonderful habitat for wildlife and for every tree that I harvest I plant a new one each spring. The reward for the grower at harvest is to have produced a tree that will take pride of place in any home to help celebrate Christmas. For me, having a real tree in my living room and enjoying the scent, feel and look is a huge part of my family’s Christmas tradition.
There are a number of species grown for Christmas trees. The most popular are Noble Fir and Nordmann Fir; both non shed. Noble tend to be a blue green colour whereas the Nordmann are a dark green. Norway Spruce, Fraser Fir, and Lodgepole Pine are some of the other species grown.
Tips from Irish Christmas Tree Growers to help keep your real tree fresh: Keep outdoors in a shaded area after purchase; shake well before bringing in; cut at least 2cm from the stem; put tree in a water holding stand; treat like fresh flowers/give it water daily; keep it away from direct heat.