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What it takes to grow a Christmas tree

A Christmas tree farmer in Carbon County has been on a mission over the last few years to grow his own trees from seeds, a process that takes years to complete.

LEHIGHTON, Pa. — The sea of Christmas Trees at Crystal Spring Tree Farm near Lehighton seems endless.

Chris Botek is the owner. Farming trees is his passion and from that passion bloomed a hobby.

"This is where it all starts right here. We are pulling these off of mother trees, and we go through the process of storing them, cleaning them, but you can see inside what's in there. There are all the seeds," said Botek.

For the last six years, Botek has grown his own Christmas trees from seed at his farm in Mahoning Township.

Once the seeds are clean and separated, they get dried and stored until it's time or can be planted into raised beds with homemade soil.

"These were sewn in April, so by this time of the year, this is what you have. It's hard to believe but a Christmas tree, that's one year. That's all we are going to get," said Botek.

Let's flash forward four years.

"Two years in a seedbed, two years in a transplant bed, and these are ready to go into the field. We can get this right out. We have four years invested just to get here," said Botek.

The cones that are picked are from trees in this orchard.

Botek has a variety of firs and spruces.

"My orchard it's called open-pollinated. It's all the mother trees, which have male and female flowers on them, all pollinating each other," said Botek.

A Norway spruce has been on the property for about 25 years, but this is the first year Botek will be able to pick its cones.

"This is it. This is the first time, these should be ready within two weeks, but I waited a long time for these," said Botek.

If you've waited three decades, you can wait another two weeks.

"I've waited a long time for these," continued Botek.

Botek says a Christmas tree that is ready to be taken home is about 12 years old.

It will take another six years before you'll be able to pick any of Botek's trees started from seed since he started this adventure six years ago.

So when you're going to pick your tree this year, remember to take your time, for it's the good things that come to people who wait, even if it's 25 years.

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