Christmas Trees and Worms – A Love Story

Several months ago, I (apparently) filled out a form sent to me by the Arbor Day Foundation.  The Foundation said that, in exchange for filling out their form and sending it back expeditiously, it would send me a tree.

I thought this sounded like a pretty good deal, so I immediately filled out the form and popped it in the mail.  I then forgot about it utterly.

Fast-forward to last week.

I’m working down in Brooklyn and I get a call from Dave who tells me that my tree arrived.

“What tree?”

“I dunno.  There’s a tree here and it’s addressed to you.  Looks like a pine.”

So, the other day, as I unwrapped my tree, Dave remembered the form (I still didn’t) and we looked to see what we’d gotten.

At first glance, it looked like I’d actually gotten TWO trees.  One was clearly a spruce and the other was, according to the literature enclosed, a lilac bush.   Since it had been a couple of days since they’d arrived, we felt we should get them into the ground as soon as possible.  We gathered all the supplies necessary for planting trees (shovels, water, chicken wire, and tin snips) and headed out to settle them in.

As Dave started to dig the first hole, I unwrapped the seedlings to get the roots in water while they waited to be planted.  Unwrapping them revealed that we did not, in fact, receive two trees; we received TWELVE trees!  There were TWO lilac bushes and TEN spruce trees!


One of the lilac seedlings awaiting root burial in its new hole-home.

While this was totally great and exciting and wonderful news for us, I couldn’t help but think that the Arbor Day Foundation was taking a fairly huge leap of faith in sending us this mini forest.  The assumption that someone would have the space, know-how, and wherewithall to handle a timely and appropriate planting of a dozen trees was fairly epic in proportion.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many times they’d made that decision poorly.

Probably a lot of times.

But this wasn’t one of them.

We immediately shifted gears and started to think about where we could plant what was now going to be our Christmas Tree Farm.

The inception of the Christmas Tree Farm

The inception of the Christmas Tree Farm

Since the Colorado Blue Spruce is a relatively slow-growing conifer (averaging about 12 inches per year in ideal circumstances), we figure we’ve got about five or six years before the Christmas trees are ready for harvesting.

In the meantime, we’ve now got a lovely mini treeline along the road in front of the house which the chickens started to destroy within moments of planting.

We wrapped them with chicken wire as fast as we could and, hopefully, that will protect them enough to give them a shot at success.

A happy by-product of planting trees on a lovely spring afternoon is WORMS.

I’ve been eager to start a worm bin for about a year now and just haven’t taken the time to get one started.  As we dug holes and moved sod and planted trees, we realized the worms were EVERYWHERE.  Enlisting the help of the best worm handlers I know (my kids), we sallied forth, collecting wigglers from the newly-exposed soil and placing them into a largish bin.


My SUPER FANCY worm bin, made of the world’s most precious materials.

By eating kitchen scraps, worms create castings which provide a valuable soil amendment and plant tonic.  Though castings are often called fertilizer, they’re actually not very high in nitrogen, but they are full of plant-supporting nutrients.

If you sprinkle castings on potted plants and over garden beds, you can make an extra-rich growing medium that is gentle on the roots (due to the low nitrogen content).  Also, a little goes a long way, so even if it doesn’t seem like the worms are providing bucketfulls of castings, that’s totally okay, you don’t need much to promote a healthy soil environment.

While we have a good amount of space, a worm bin is a solid green-waste disposal system for someone with no space at all.  If you live in a one-bedroom apartment and want to grow basil on your windowsill, you can still keep a small worm bin and feed it your day-to-day food waste (think coffee grounds, egg shells, stale bread scraps).  Adding a small amount of castings to the soil will absolutely have a positive impact on container plant growth.

So, now we have trees and bushes and worms and spring is here and I’m back from Brooklyn and all is right with the world.

And I’m looking for some more time-sensitive forms to fill out.


About applewoodfarm

Restaurateur, farmer, bartender, beekeeper, friend, wife, mother, dog lover, cat tolerater, chicken hypnotizer, blogger, and sometime yogi
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9 Responses to Christmas Trees and Worms – A Love Story

  1. Lily says:

    Just received our Arbor day trees and I’m having the same “Oh Jeez I have to plant all these trees soon” moment too. Glad to have the trees though! Love your blog.

  2. Peter Steinberg says:

    A time-sensitive form to fill out? On April 15? Hmmm, I think I have just the thing for you.

  3. Bill says:

    No doubt you know this, but if you drill holes in the bottom of your red tub you can collect the awesome liquid that will flow into the transparent tub and make worm tea. Dilute the worm runoff with water and spray it onto your plants. They’ll love it!

  4. Claire says:

    I hope your trees fare better than ours did. Though, to be fair, we probably did not protect them adequately enough from the dogs (who will run over anything). I think one of the ten survived the summer and winter.

  5. Amanda says:

    Yep, me too, on all counts. And wondering if I will be a good tree parent. Turns out I am not in the same place as where I was when I filled out the form, and in the new place, bought from the bank, there are saplings coming up everywhere that we have to take down! But hope to find somewhere for these trees… soon… as I have already had ’em a week. And they didn’t really look that great when I got ’em! How do you know if they are healthy?

    • Mine sat for about four days before I opened the package (I was away) and I was really worried about them. The roots were well packed in water and earth, however, and they seemed fine (as fine as twigs can seem, I guess). If you aren’t able to plant them right away, I would recommend heeling them in (see this: St. Lawrence Nurseries is a great resource for how to handle saplings that look tired or like they might not make it. If you check out their website, there is even a phone number you can call with questions. It’s like two guys and some trees. Awesome resource. Good luck!

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