You know how much better you feel after a good haircut? Well our fruit trees are also feeling quite unburdened after their annual summer prune.
Thanks to Dawn, Lyn, Carolyn and Sarah we’ve snipped our apple, pear, peach, plum and nectarine trees. For an explanation on why we prune in summer, read this earlier post and there’s more information on summer pruning and espaliers here. We left them with a slow hose to get a deep water this afternoon and will hopefully get some seaweed/fish emulsion into them over the next week too.
Timing-wise it should also be beneficial for the trees – the last few days have seen a descending moon (the lunar tropical cycle), in a fruit and root sign (lunar sidereal cycle), and although the moon isn’t waning, it’s still been in the first quarter, or waxing crescent phase (synodic cycle). We’ve also just passed a perigee moon which is closest to the earth this month (apsidal cycle) so more effect/impact from what else is going on.
Don’t forget our first working bee for the year, next Sunday – see the calendar or website sidebar for more information. We’ll be working on the communal plots in that quadrant, amongst other things.
It was good chatting today about our communal crops and how that maybe the reason the rhubarb has done so poorly where it is is because it’s blasted by the western setting sun. We talked about better spots for it, or planting other sheltering things for summer (even though most think of rhubarb as being the hardiest of hardy). Microclimates in the garden, especially in ours, are becoming of more and more interest and importance. It also means paying more careful attention, from the plant’s viewpoint.
Here’s some pics of the haircut, or at least the afterwards: (click over the image to see caption/open slideshow). Would also love Simon Rickard (remember that workshop? and then again) to come back to the garden and tell us what we’ve done wrong!
nectarine – fruits on new (one year old) wood
nectarine – try to create a vase shape to open up the centre of the tree
nectarine – fantasia – it’s still quite young; trying to create an open vase shape and seeing what the tree wants to do; minimal intervention this year
peach – a strong open structure
apple – dwarf cox’s orange pippin – apples fruit on permanent fruiting spurs, try to train branches to the horizontal so the tree will produce more of these along the length of the branch
peach – cutting the tree back to fit under shade and netting structures and low enough to pick
espalier cocktail pear – we’ve just about got the basic structure established, possiblly one more side branch to the right next season, then it’s a matter of cutting back all vertical growth (vegetative) and encouraging horizontal growth (fruiting spurs) It doesn’t look like the textbooks, but trying to work with the tree’s inclination, and ours…
cocktail pear – fruits on permanent spurs, like apples; it’s easy to see them in late summer when you just picked your fruit.
cocktail pear – cut back all the vertical growth, keeping a couple of lower buds
coes golden drop plum – pruning to a fan shape; plums fruit on new (one year old) wood and also produce spurs
angelina plum – the fan shape is just about established, cutting back any outward and vertical growth
peach – to avoid getting really long fruiting branches, cut back to a new shoot/shooting bud, and tip new growth that will bear this years fruit to leave about 6 to 8 buds
dwarf apple – central leader (branch) is quite obvious here and the side branches (laterals) tied down to encourage some more horizontal, fruiting spurs, growth
peach – this new growth (last year’s, i.e. one year old wood in horticultural parlance) will produce next season’s/this year’s fruit. It’s hard to tell which is a leaf or fruit bud but a good rule of thumb is to keep 6 to 8 of them and tip prune the rest
peach – the tree has outgrown the shade and net structure so a bit of drastic snipping; keeping some potential shoots may mean we miss out on fruit from this branch this season, but should have plenty, closer to the trunk, in the next
dwarf apple – tying down laterals can help persuade the tree to produce fruiting spurs. We’ll remove the ties in spring and let the tree do it’s thing, as it will
peach – after pruning – let’s see what happens; it’s always a case of trial, error, learning. But what better place to do it?!
The ‘fruits’ of our pruning – great compost makings once put through the mulcher and composted with heat to kill any potential pathogens