Waightstill and Linda Avery started trucking Christmas trees to the area from their Plumtree, N.C., farm more than 20 years ago. They promised the freshest trees, wreaths and garlands.
"All he does is trees," said Pam Lightsey, manager of A Very Merry Christmas Tree Farms in Augusta, located on Walton Way Extension next to Savannah River Banking Co. "Mr. Avery is a graduate of N.C. State, has a degree in horticulture and soil tests the trees."
Lightsey said the Averys sell an average of 600 to 800 fresh Frasier fir trees each Christmas.
"They only have one lot this year," said Lightsey, adding that they had six lots in the area at one time. "They've been growing Frasier firs on their family farm in North Carolina for more than 220 years."
Along with fresh trees come some important care and safety tips. Among them, according to Lightsey, is the need to test a tree for freshness.
"Check the needles," she said. "Make sure a lot of the needles don't come off in your hand. You'll get a few, but you shouldn't get a handful. If you do, don't buy the tree."
After purchasing the tree, Lightsey said, give it a fresh cut so that it can retain water.
"Cut off 1 to 2 inches from the bottom, being sure to remove anything that is sapped over," she said. "You want to make sure you get the tree in water within at least 30 minutes of making that cut."
A little warm water for the tree's first "drink" is OK, according to Lightsey, adding that the warm water will aid in loosening any sap left on the tree. Lightsey said it is fine to leave the tree in a bucket of water for a day or so before putting it in a stand.
"When you do get it in the stand, just make sure you check it daily to ensure that the tree has enough water," she said. "You don't want the stand to run out of water because it will sap over again and that can become a concern."
Many house fires occur each Christmas because a fresh tree has been placed near a heat source -- a furnace, fireplace or vent.
With a little TLC, fresh trees can last for quite a while, said Lightsey.
"Just keep a watchful eye on the water," she said. "And be sure you don't add anything to the water -- 7 Up doesn't work; aspirin doesn't work; and Miracle-Gro definitely doesn't work."
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