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The Perfect Christmas Tree — Fresh, Fragrant and Safe

By Harold Smith - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48044785

Care for your Christmas tree

Your purchase of a North Carolina Fraser Fir tree from Poppell Farms is evidence of your desire to have a beautiful Christmas tree this holiday season.  It can maintain its beauty and freshness longer with just a few simple steps you can take after getting the tree home.

  • Make a fresh cut – Straight across the base of the tree, cut off approximately one half inch before placing the tree in a stand.
  • Use a stand that will hold a gallon of water or more
  • Check water often, keep the stand full – A tree may take up a gallon of water in the first 24 hours and a quart a day after thatl  Preservatives are not needed, just plenty of fresh water.
  • Place tree away from heat sources, heating vents, fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators and sunny windows.
  • Check lights and cords for broken bulbs and frayed wiring.
  • Do not overload electric circuits.
  • Turn off lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Remove tree from your home promptly after Christmas and recycle it.

Remember, a fresh cut, plenty of water, and a bit of common sense is all it takes to enjoy your North Carolina Fraser Fir.  Have a Joyous Holiday Season.

Images, video and text courtesy of North Carolina Christmas Tree Association

Pumpkin Carving

Halloween will be here before we know it! Time to deck the house out with spooky fake spider webs, pick out costumes and CARVE THOSE PUMPKINS! Here are a few tips for an aMAZEing pumpkin carving experience. 

The right pumpkin
The right pumpkin has a flat bottom so that it doesn’t wobble all over the place. Select a fresh pumpkin with a solid stem and no bruising. 

Cut at an angle
Have you ever cut the top off your pumpkin only to have to drop into the goopy mess inside? Avoid this nonsense by cutting your pumpkin lid off at an angle.

The right tools
One of the best tools for cutting the lid off a pumpkin is a keyhole saw. The sharp teeth on this saw can easily slice through a pumpkin’s thick shell, and the flexible blade is awesome for making curved cuts. Other useful carving tools include hole cutters, wood gauges and a power drill.

Keep it fresh
Nothing stinks more than working hard on an awesome Jack O’Lantern only to have it rot away in a few days time. Spread petroleum jelly on the cut edges to keep your pumpkin fresh through to Halloween. If it shrivels up, you can freshen it up by soaking it in cold water for up to 8 hours. 

Visit us on Pinterest for fun pumpkin carving ideas!

Pumpkin Painting

Painting pumpkins instead of carving them has several perks. Painted pumpkins last longer than carved ones. You don’t have to worry about your little ones and sharp objects. Plus, you can be as artsy as you want to be with glitter, stickers, or whatever else your creative heart desires!

Picking a Pumpkin
The perfect painting pumpkin has a smooth, even surface. Be sure to choose one without bruises, scratches, and lumps. Unless lumpy is the look you’re going for. A bumpy pumpkin could make for a great goblin! Great painting pumpkin varieties include Baby Pam, Sugar Pie, Lumina, or Cotton Candy. 

Clean Your Pumpkin Up
Dirt and paint don’t mix. Use a damp rag or paper towel to gently get rid of any dirt and grime from your pumpkin. Avoid using items like rough scrubbing pads as this can damage your pumpkin. Use a soft cloth to thoroughly dry your pumpkin and keep the stem area dry. A wet stem can cause pumpkin rot.

Tools
Acrylic paint is a great option for painting pumpkins as it dries quickly and allows you to paint over the first layer in a short time period. Go-to painting tools include cheap paint brushes, cotton swabs, sponges, and cotton balls. A damp cloth works great for wiping away any mistakes. 

Go nuts!
Make your pumpkin shine with fun embellishments like glitter, sequins, pom poms, or rhinestones. Add googly eyes to create faces! Incorporate glow-in-the-dark paint to make your pumpkin stand out at night!

Visit us on Pinterest for fun design ideas!

Recipes

It’s the time of the year for everything PUMPKIN! Pumpkin pies, pumpkin soups, pumpkin EVERYTHING! Here are some great pumpkin varieties perfect for cooking up those cool-weather comfort foods!

Varieties
We’re going to bypass carving pumpkins (think Jack-O-Lanterns) all together as they are no good for cookery. The meat is stringy and the flavor leaves a lot to be desired. Instead, choose varieties that are sweet, super flavorful, and have a smoother flesh. You’ll want to find varieties that are labeled as ‘sugar pumpkins’ or ‘pie pumpkins’. These varieties include Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, Lumina (these are white pumpkins), Cinderella, and Ghost Rider.

Pumpkin Size
The best cooking pumpkins should be between 4-8 pounds. Pass on pumpkins that have any bruising as this can be a sign of rot.

Storage
Keep your pumpkins fresh by placing them in a cool temperature. When stored properly, pumpkins can last up to 90 days. Pumpkin purée freezes very well for future pies, muffins, and more.

Visit our blog for more fun pumpkin tips!

Repurposing

Halloween is over and it’s time to put that slumped over Jack-O-Lantern to better use. Here are some great ways to reuse your holiday pumpkins! 

Awesome Compost
Turn your decaying Jack-O-Lanterns into plant-loving compost for the garden. Remove all candles or battery-operated tea lights along with any other decorations attached to the pumpkin (ribbons, googly eyes, etc.). Pumpkins that have been painted, coated in sealant, or covered in glitter cannot be composted. Be sure to remove all the pumpkin seeds as well. Failure to do so could result in your very own pumpkin patch! 

Fall Feeder
Hollow out one side of your leftover pumpkin and fill with bird seed. If you have a bunch of baby pumpkins, you can tie a bit of cord at the top and hang the small feeders from trees in your yard. Your winged-friends will adore them!

Critter Treats
All kinds of animals, including squirrels and birds,  would be very happy to munch on leftover pumpkins. Pumpkins are an excellent source of source of vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and essential fatty acids. 

Visit our blog for more fun pumpkin tips!

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