University of Maryland Extension: Garden Q&A
Photo credit: Baltimore Sun/Nanine Hartzenbusch
Q: Last year, the Christmas tree selection process nearly ended in divorce for my wife and me. How do I select the perfect Christmas tree?
A: Individuals have particular preferences, of course, regarding size, shape and type of tree. But here are some tips for a good-looking tree that might help make the holiday season more joyful for you and your spouse:
* Don't wait till the last minute. Choices invariably narrow as December 25 approaches.
* Choose your tree in daylight and at leisure. It's easy to overlook major defects when you’re rushing on a cold night in a poorly lit sales yard.
* Inspect the needles closely. They should be turgid (not limp) and well-filled. Avoid trees with whitish or shriveled needles. A good test for freshness is to bend a few needles to a 90 angle and give a steady pull. The needles should bend and not break.
* Lift the tree up and hit the butt end on a hard surface. If lots of green needles shatter and fall, the tree is too dry.
Q: In fall, spiders come in my house. One ate a stinkbug! This year, though, I’m seeing a few big furry fast spiders in the house. Cause for concern?
A: Like all spiders, wolf spiders are predators. Unlike some that wait in a web for prey, wolf spiders are active hunters, especially in fall. The hairs on their legs help them detect air movement caused by potential prey or predators. In lawns or leaf litter or anywhere they can run down earwigs, caterpillars, roaches, crickets or even other spiders. They crush dinner with their jaws and feast. Their silk is used to line their burrows in the ground. Escort yours outside if you can, so they can continue their good works, or let them do their thing indoors.