Christmas tree farms are active all year round. In the late winter, as weather allows, the fields are cleaned of branches, trash and less than stellar trees.
When the ground has thawed and is just right–digging out trees for landscaping starts. Don’t forget, evergreens used as Christmas trees are excellent for landscaping around the house. Some additional uses for evergreens are as year round greenery, habitat for birds and animals, help to stabilize soil, provide screening and make an excellent wind break.. Galehouse Tree Farms pre-digs Colorado Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce, White Spruce, Black Hills Spruce, White Pine, Canaan Fir, Fraser Fir, Concolor Fir, and Douglas Fir holding them in mulch beds ready for you to inspect and take home to plant. Planting during the early spring through mid May and again in fall, from September until the ground freezes give the trees the optimum amount of water and excellent temperatures to grow new roots.
Ground prep for the upcoming planting season needs to be done. Since we work hard at controlling erosion, and evergreens do an excellent job, the new seedlings are planted between the old rows of tree stumps. After tilling the strips, thousands of trees are planted each year, some by hand , most by a mechanical tree planter.
About the time the seedlings are finished planted, and just before the new growth comes out on the older trees, mowing the grass in the strips between the trees becomes a priority. Trees grow better if the competition from weeds is reduced. This process takes time–we mow with 30-40″ mowers, up to 200 acres, three times during the summer….some on tractors , some with walk behind mowers. For the new seedlings and for the first three years some herbicide is used to help control the weeds along with mowing. In the past we have grown pumpkins in the fields where future seedlings would have been planted the next year, helping in reducing weeds (pumpkin leaves tend to crowd out the noxious weeds).
After the first mowing, and the new growth has “hardened off” (that means that the needles have extended from the branch and the branch has gotten stiff) we start trimming. Contrary to popular belief, not all conifers choose to grow in a triangular shape….and not all at the same speed, even on the same plant. Trimming controls the rate of new growth, encourages branching and budding in the trees. It also gives the tree you know as a Christmas tree its traditional shape. The fast growing pines need to be trimmed by the end of July, the slow growing firs and spruce are trimmed into the fall.
Fall is a beautiful time on the farm. The trees look very green and accent the wonderful fall colors in the leaves in the wood lots around the farm. Fall hay rides and pumpkin picking is upon us. Fun on the farm for children includes pumpkin painting and carving, riding toys in the play yard , a straw maze, tee-pees to play in and hay rides all over the tree farms.
The Tree House is open with great ideas for decorating throughout the fall season –Halloween to Thanksgiving. (You can sneak an early peek at the Christmas decorations too!).