A Tree is Not Just for Christmas

Peter -  7 Dec 2023 08:00:00 Other articles...


Unbelievably it is estimated that six to eight million Xmas trees bought in Britain alone this year are destined for the chop at the prime of their lives with unacceptable environmental consequences that are easily glossed over or dismissed. After its brief decorative moment of glory in a festive setting, most Xmas trees are then fly-tipped rather than recycled. Altogether, the government's waste agency Wrap estimates that the nation's dumped trees weigh in at around 160,000 tonnes. In spite of the much lauded ambitious tree planting across the globe, after a tree is planted, you don't start seeing carbon retention and sequestration happening for at least 10 years after they're planted. The upsetting mass culling of young healthy Xmas trees, mostly less than 10 years old, is made even more unacceptable because it is presented as a sustainable contribution to ‘climate control’ action. The truth is just the opposite.

If they do end up in landfill, trees have an environmental, as well as economic cost. The Carbon Trust calculate the carbon footprint of a 2-metre tall tree at 16kg carbon dioxide equivalent because of the methane released as it decomposes.  

Don’t take the above words as the thoughts of a grinch. I love celebrating the joys of Xmas more than most, but there is a much better option to have the cheerful tree symbol of Xmas to brighten up your home in these dark days. ie. Instead of buying a hacked down tree buy a pot grown living tree that you can use year after year with minimal effort. Although a potted tree with a full root system may cost twice as much as a cut tree, clearly, if it will last many years, it will far more cost effective, as well as benefit the environment. If more people start to refuse to buy a cut tree, and put pressure on the Xmas trees stockists to provide a good range of fully rooted pot grown specimens, trust me, they will respond by pressurising the growers. 

Water and feed are the two essential requirements for your Xmas tree to thrive from year to year. There are fundamentally two ways to keep a Xmas tree thriving healthily from year to year, and both are mainly based on preventing the tree from drying up, which is the most common cause of conifer trees loss. The first option is to repot your newly acquired tree into a larger pot with an in-built water reservoir. Many options are easily obtainable, such as the Lechuza Classico pot, as in the photo. The second method is to also ensure that the tree does not dry out over the Xmas period in the dry atmosphere of your home, and then to carefully lift the full root-ball from the pot after Xmas, cover it in a hessian cloth and plant it in the garden, ensuring that it is well watered throughout the year. The hessian will restrict the root growth, which can be pruned at the end of the year before re-potting ready for the next festive season. (Click HERE for an excellent YouTube guide).

Whatever method suits you best, if you feed your pot grown Xmas tree every few months with slow release ericaceous feed your tree will be kept in tip top condition, and it will grow healthily for many joyful Xmas seasons to come.

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