Archive for Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Christmas future?

Tree farmer takes students

April 11, 2007

Reduce, reuse and recycle.

These are three "R's" students in the Environmental Club at Basehor Elementary School know and practice often. But Cyndi Kenton, fourth-grade teacher and club sponsor, along with a little help from Wilderson Tree Farm, introduced students last week to a lesser-known "R" -- replace.

"We've planted 150 trees since about 12:30, but I've had some good help," Chuck Wilderson, owner of Wilderson Tree Farm, said to club members Thursday afternoon.

The students visited the farm to learn the art of replanting trees and replenishing the Christmas tree supply at the farm. Wilderson handed one student a Scotch pine seedling as the group climbed onto a tractor-pulled wagon and was driven out to the planting site.

Children tiptoed across the grass to avoid stepping on any tiny, newly planted trees and watched as Wilderson began digging a hole. A large hole, about 1 foot in diameter and 3 inches deep, called a catch basin, is dug first, Wilderson explained. Water collects in this hole to make sure the tree receives enough moisture. Next, the tree is planted in a smaller hole in the middle of the catch basin.

The 30-year-old Christmas tree farm had 13,000 trees at one time, and Wilderson said he plants close to 1,000 trees each March and April to replace those trees that are cut during the Christmas season. During the 2006 holiday season, about 500 trees were cut down.

The new seedlings also will help replace the 260 trees that died during the dry summer of 2006.

But these little pine sprigs won't be ready for this Christmas or even next holiday season. Wilderson said it takes anywhere from six to 10 years for these trees to grow to Christmas tree size.

"You guys are about 8, 9, 10-years-old?" Wilderson said. "When you're about 16, you can come down and get your Christmas tree."

After another short wagon ride back to the tree farm office, students were given a seedling identical to the one that was just planted to plant in their own yards. Wilderson reminded the students to plant the trees at least 15 feet from the nearest driveway or sidewalk and give them about a gallon of water once a week. He said their trees could grow to be 25 to 30 feet tall and showed the students a few white pine trees he had planted in his own front yard.

"We had these two trees in our house for Christmas in 1976 and 1978," he said, pointing at the two large trees in his front yard. "They're about 40 feet tall now."

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