Sunday, 14 December 2014

Pruning time!

Vine pruning lessons, State Library of South
Australia, Wikimedia Commons
Many trees are pruned in winter, when it's really cold. We are hoping to run a pruning workshop at some point, but in the meantime, here are a few quick tips. We are not exactly pruning vines, but I couldn't resist this vintage photo where a man wearing a kind of colonial outfit is giving lessons to adoring females in smart work clothes. Everybody looks so stylish, not exactly our modern-day, casual gardening gear! If you have any pruning tips to share, feel free to leave a comment. 
  • Pruning starts in the first or second winter of the tree's life, this is formative pruning, which is followed by maintenance and renewal pruning after about five years. Be careful of what you do in the formative pruning stage, the tree might not be as 'forgiving' as later on.
  • Buds on branches can produce fruit or shootsVegetative buds are small, triangular or pointed and they lie flat against the stem. Fruit buds store carbohydrates and become larger, fatter and may appear furry. For apples and pears, flower buds only develop on two-year-old wood and flower the following year to produce fruit. 
  • Branches tend to grow upwards towards the sky and sun, but vertical branches do not fruit well. You need to control the height, as it will also make it more difficult to harvest the fruit. If you inherit a big apple tree, you might have to reduce its height and if you are quite harsh, you might not see any fruit for two years. [This happened to me, the cooking apple tree didn't mind too much and produced less apples, but the eating apple tree sulked and we didn't get any apple the following season.]
  • The harder you prune, the more growth you get. It's best to prune weak shoots to half of the annual growth, stronger shoots only up to a third of the year's growth.
  • Remove dead, diseased and damaged wood. Remove crossing branches.
These are just a few tips to get you started courtesy of our garden's members, watch this space for our very own workshop and/or check out the BBC's online guide to pruning.

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