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St. Mick’s opens its gates for the holidays

KINGSTON — The familiar red gates located 1.5 miles north on Hansville Road are open and ready for the holiday tradition of purchasing that fine sweet smelling evergreens for the home. And, as usual, the popular pooches St. Mick and Suzi will be on hand to greet those who pass through those gates into St. Mick’s Tree Farm.

Owners Elda and Herb Armstrong will be offering grand fir, red shasta and noble and Douglas fir trees from their “Grand Forest” at the 20 acre-property.

Elda Armstrong said they are also offering the long-needled concolor trees that can be used as table top decorations. The farm has conifers that are 20 feet or taller that need to be purchased, she added.

“After so long, they get scraggly,” Armstrong explained. “If they want big trees, we’ve got them. We don’t sell them off to wholesalers — we’d rather sell them to the public.”

St. Mick’s took a hit during the dry summer, she said, noting that the although staff planted 1,100 trees, it lost about 40 percent of them — even with regular watering. Regardless, the farm will operate the same as it does every year and families can visit to pick a tree or tag one to cut down later in the season.

Armstrong said she will also continue the tradition of taking a picture of the tree pickers as well as encourage repeat customers to find their picture from last year.

The Armstrongs, children and grandchildren included, will help other families cut down their trees and even install tree stands for those who need assistance with the tricky contraptions.

Cookies and hot beverages will be available for snacking while customers wait for their purchases to be prepared for the drives home. Armstrong will also take wreath orders and make custom scotchbroom wreaths, using all natural greens and cones.

While the family has been in the business for more than 20 years, “we seem to get a little better every year,” Armstrong said.

She also offered a few tips on how to help extend the life of the trees: After cutting them down, place the trunk in water immediately. After it has been in a water bucket for a day or so, cut 3/4-inch off the bottom, drill a hole up the center of the trunk and pack it with cotton. Then set the trunk in a mix of water and 7Up.

“(The mixture) helps it stay green longer,” Armstrong said, noting one of her grandkids did a science project on it for school, proving that trees stay alive longer with sugar water.

At the end of the season, she recommended taking the trees to a recycling center, where they will be chopped up and used for mulch.

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