December 1 was the peak day to buy a Christmas bough or tree, say its seasonal farmers. Among them, Ziggy Kominek expects to sell thousands of them this year to meet demand in the Southern Tablelands and greater Canberra region.
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The family business was set up on the outskirts of Gundaroo 16 years ago. On the weekend, the Komineks sold about 400 trees at 'Santa's Shaped Christmas Tree Farm'; 280 of those were sold on the Sunday, December 1.
Mr Kominek said the number of trees grown this year had eased because of the drought conditions, but the farm had between 6000 to 7000 ready to sell. "We have about 35,000 to 40,000 trees planted, but not all are ready. They are in different stages of growth," he said.
More people are choosing to buy real Christmas trees over the plastic variety, Mr Kominek said. "People come out with the family and enjoy the farm for a few hours. They come and get a choice of thousands of Christmas trees," he said.
As well as creating a tradition, more are choosing fresh trees for environmental reasons. "Our trees ... soak up carbon dioxide and produce oxygen and store carbon, as long as you don't burn the tree when you're finished with it," he said. Expired trees can be mulched or composted to maintain the carbon-neutral status, he said.
When is the right time to buy? Some tree farms will raise prices the closer the date to Christmas, but at the moment a seven-foot tree will set you back about $70, Mr Kominek said.
However, his prices would also rise closer to Christmas Day. "Earlier in the year, you can buy a tree for $20 or $30 cheaper," he said. The earlier you buy, the longer you will have the tree to enjoy, he added.
Most trees should last about six weeks if cared for properly. "You have to look after them," said Mr Kominek. "If you are going away for a long time over Christmas, it won't last."
He recommended a tree stand, not a bucket, to support the tree. "You need a stand to access the trunk under the waterline," he said.
A week after being cut down, the tree will ooze sap and cover its trunk, blocking water absorption. Using a serrated knife or hacksaw, cut into the bark just under the waterline to ensure the tree has access to water, Mr Kominek said.
Water the tree regularly and keep it away from heat sources.
- Grampy's Christmas Trees
22 Wingello Street, Wingello.
Call 0427 829 253.
- The Christmas Tree Man
401 Nandi Road, Wingello.
- Welby Garden Centre
Cnr Old Hume Hwy and Bendooley St, Welby
- The Village Grocer and Store
65 Railway Avenue, Bundanoon.
Call 4883 6633.
- The Highlands Christmas Tree Co
Lot 12 Boardman Road, Bowral.
Call 0414 335 781.