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Your guide to Chesaeake Country's freshest produce and more!

Not All Wreaths Are Equal

Store-bought Christmas wreaths and roping may need resurrection

At a winter Saturday morning farmers market on Riva Road, a shopper approached me with a Christmas wreath problem. In a week on her door, a wreath she had purchased at a local big-box store was turning gray-green, and its needles felt dry.
    I was not surprised.
    Most of the Christmas wreaths and roping sold in big-box stores, grocery stores and many garden centers are made in New Mexico, North Carolina, New Jersey, the West Coast and Canada starting in October. Few of these facilities have climate-controlled cold storage for keeping greens fresh prior to shipping. Most are stored on the floor in sheds and barns and sprinkled with water when they appear to be drying. By the time they reach Maryland, they have already lost a high percentage of their moisture.

Use Leaves Under Shrubs

  If you have a blower or a lawn mower, you can minimize raking and reduce your need to buy mulch next spring. Start in the middle of the yard and blow the fallen leaves under your shrubs. Leaves make great mulch, and it is nearly impossible to apply too much. It takes a bushel of leaves to make a cup of leaf compost.

    At a local hardware store, I saw wreaths being sold that were already showing symptoms of early composting. This indicates that they were near the bottom of the pile for a long time.
    If you are purchasing a wreath or roping from one of these sellers, the first thing you should do on getting it home is to submerge the greenery in a basin of warm water for 10 to 12 hours. This will help to rehydrate the surface tissues that have lost most of their moisture.
    When I advised my questioner on this procedure, she told me that the largest container at her disposal was her bathtub, which she did not want to use for that purpose. I suggested a steel or plastic wheelbarrow.
    At Upakrik Farm, I wait to make wreaths and roping until Thanksgiving week to assure freshness. After I make the wreaths, I place them on the barn floor in stacks no greater than 10 deep to prevent compression and to assure adequate moisture. I sprinkle the wreaths and roping daily to keep them moist and cool to maintain freshness. Because I sell only freshly made wreaths and roping, I have many repeat customers at the Riva Road Farmers Market. There is no substitute for freshness.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.