Seedling to Santa
The “perfect” Christmas tree actually starts its life far away from the Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm in a seedling nursery in Northern California.
After a year in the nursery, the seedling (let’s call him Chris) is about 8” tall and is shipped in January to the tree farm along with several hundred of his brothers and sisters, where we plant him next to the stump of a tree that has been cut. We dig a hole with a planting bar and place his feet (roots) into the hole at just the right height for best survival. Since we do not have irrigation at the farm, we hope for rain within a few days and weeks to water the seedling. We can plant about 500 seedlings per day and we plant about 9,000 per year.
When Chris is about 7 years old, or 7’-8’ tall, he is ready for his final haircut. He needs to have a good straight top (leader) and good stiff side branches that are evenly spaced so he is ready to be selected and taken home by some lucky family to help decorate their home and be a part of their holiday traditions.
We do not use pesticides so we have to cut weeds with a “weed whacker”. Cutting weeds on 12+ acres is very time consuming and must be done 2 or 3 times per year. During this time, we are keeping an eye on Chris the seedling, who is sucking up water and nutrients and getting bigger. At 5 years old, or about 5’ tall, Chris is given his first haircut (sheared). This is done with a shearing knife and must be done every year during the summer.
But this is not the end of the story. If enough branches are left at the bottom of the stump, it will stay alive and can form another tree, Chris Jr. If not, then we will plant another seedling next to the stump and the cycle begins again.
Now the fun part, adding the tinsel, ornaments and lights. Don’t forget to put water in the waterstand at least once a week as this will help keep Chris looking fresh throughout the holiday season.