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Finding the Perfect Christmas Tree With Some Help

Vreeland Farms owners describe the difference between some of the most popular trees this season.

Each of them is green, has needles and reminds people of the upcoming holiday. But not every Christmas tree is the same.

Laura Cluff and Mike Casella, both 27-year-old West Milford residents, have co-owned Vreeland Farms, on Route 202 in Montville, since July. The couple is leasing the farm stand, hoping to build a bigger business and eventually get married.

"We're trying to start our own business and trying to succeed," Casella said.

The stand, which was previously owned by Cluff's aunt, has continued to offer specialty items, like jellies and jams, syrup, spices, and non-traditional items, like the colorful spinners that can be seen from Route 202. The stand does not offer particular produce items all year, rather focuses on seasonal crops mostly grown in West Milford and transported to Montville. This season, Vreeland Farms is celebrating the holidays by offering the plants and products people come to associate with Christmas.

Cluff, a fourth-generation farmer and agriculturist, said Vreeland Farms offers only two kinds of Christmas trees, but that they are the most popular evergreens people think of when they picture their tree: the Douglas Fir and the Fraser Fir. Her personal preference is the Fraser Fir and she offered families some advice in distinguishing between the two kinds.

"The Fraser has a different needle texture, they are a little bit firmer," she said.

She said the Fraser Fir has a blue-colored hue and the needles shed less and last longer than other trees. The pine smell is not as strong with the Fraser Fir, but Cluff said the tree still has a pleasant scent.

"I find it easier to hang ornaments on the Fraser," she said.

Fraser Fir trees are mostly grown in North Carolina, although the ones sold at Vreeland Farms are from Pennsylvania. Fraser Firs are thinner than other trees. But Fraser Fir trees are not typically what a person thinks of when they think of a Christmas tree.

"That's, like, the iconic Christmas tree, the Douglas Fir," Cluff said.

The Douglas Fir is bushier and fatter. The needles are greener and somewhat softer. The pine scent is also stronger on a Douglas Fir.

As for the ideal height of the tree, Casella said that really is the decision of the person choosing it.

"That all depends on your house," he said. "You can have them look identical at 3 feet and 30 feet."

Buying a Christmas tree is not as simple as choosing it and placing it in a stand in the living room. Casella said tree owners need to care for and water the tree, which he said drinks about a gallon of water every day in the first week it is placed in the stand. When choosing the tree, he recommended the bottom get cut off horizontally so that the tree is able to begin drinking the water immediately. Cluff recommended getting the fresh tree in water within an hour of purchasing it. How long the tree will last also varies by home.

"It all depends on how hot you keep your house," Cluff said.

Cluff said the more frequently a tree is watered, the longer it will stay alive. Cool, dark areas not only help Christmas trees, but holiday wreathes also last longer.

Cluff said Vreeland Farms will remain open and selling Christmas trees right up until Christmas Day.

What is your Christmas tree preference? Tell us in the comments.

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