Sunday, 4 January 2015

A Days Pruning

I was flattered last week when my brother asked me to go on a days pruning with him as he actually wanted to use some of my knowledge of fruit trees - as you all know I'm a little obsessed! I was keen and it turned out to be a really nice day, we worked hard and got a lot done and I'm really pleased with the results. 
A beautiful little smallholding with a great layout. 
 It was on a little smallholding next door to my parents farm, none of the trees had been touched for a few years as the current owners hadn't been living there long. We were concentrating on the apple and pear trees in the front garden, the house is located in the middle of the plot so the front is almost as big as the back and there was quite few trees to work on. 
Opening up a young tree creating much more light in the middle
 There was a nice mix of young and old trees to deal with, the youngest about eight or ten years going up to 30 years plus. I set to work on the small trees whilst my brother tackled the bigger ones. We were pruning for fruit production, so trying to create trees that are light and airy in the middle (a goblet shape), pruning all diseased and crossing branches first then starting to shape them. As these hadn't been touched for so long we couldn't remove too much wood this year, instead reducing some of the growth and overcrowding with a plan on tackling it again next year. If you try to take too much in one go then it puts too much energy into growing new wood instead of fruit, that's when you get lots of water shoots (quick growing upright growth).
A overcrowded small tree before pruning

Dave doing some more major work in one of the older trees

Before

After - more work to thin it out again next year.
It's fun working with my brother and he's a master of all tree work so I always learn something, but it was nice that he trusted me on what I was doing and when he's up in the tree he took my direction as it's especially difficult for him to tell the overall shape of the tree when he's in it. The last one was particularity horrible with a wild rose climbing up all through it, I didn't envy him as it was bad enough pulling the wood out and putting it in the chipper, it must have been much worse getting scratched to pieces in the tree!
An enjoyable days work and the weather was great as well, really cold but we were both dressed right so it didn't bother us in the slightest and instead enjoyed what little winter sunshine there was. 

23 comments:

  1. I pruned my three apple trees the other week, trying to obtain the goblet shape. Hope I haven't pruned them too much. I planted the prunings and they are sprouting. Will I get good apples or should I discard thee prunings Kev?

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    1. The pruning, if they grow will grow to different a random size and vigour. for the cost of a tree I don't think I'd invest the time in growing something randomly like that. that said if the prunings are taken after the graft on the tree they will grow the same type of apples as on the mother tree. If you want to buy a load of apple trees Adams Apples are good and are really cheap if you buy in bulk.

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  2. We really need to get pruning here too.
    Sounds like you had a great day and learnt from each other.

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    1. It was a good day. I need to prune my own as well but I figure it can be a job me and the girls do on a warmer morning.

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  3. I made the mistake of buying a Bramley on the wrong root stock so tackled it ruthlessly 2 years ago. As you said, up went the water shoots. As they went up though I gently bent them down and tied weights to hold them down. This year, a few water shoots went up but the pulled down branches look like they have fruit buds on. Keeping my fingers crossed.

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    1. Bramleys have a habit of going crazy no matter what rootstock they're grown on. there was a row of trees at this place all the same age but one was a lot larger than the others - I'd put money on it being a bramley! Bending branches over like that is a great way of slowing the growth, you can "brut" them as well where you bend and twist them to stay down, it's a good way of getting more fruit the year after or training a new branch to fill a space.

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  4. Did you not bring any branches home to season and burn?

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    1. No such luck! The customer had all the firewood and we chipped the small stuff.

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  5. Now that is something that I can do today even if it is too wet to do much else. The insects depend on me to get a good crop on the trees.

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    1. Thats the trouble isn't it! When I get my drainage sorted out I plan on having ducks or chickens under them for some of the year as it does limit the bugs a bit I think!

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  6. We really need to prune our trees, but feel mildly panicked about making a start! Have the RHS book coming through in the post, and am watching YT vids, so hopefully we shall bite the bullet and go for it this year!


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    1. It's much easier than you think. Some of the books are too concerned with snipping little bits off, sometimes you need to make bigger cuts to improve the tree in the long term. Just remember that if the sun can't get to the apple then it won't ripen, a light and airy tree is what you need.

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  7. Ya I need to get to pruning the trees and grape vines around here as well. I need to get a bit better at it too. Always something to do that's for sure but your pruning job looks great!!!

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    1. Grape wines is something I've never done. Being north facing here I always guessed they won;t do very well but maybe I should put some in and see how they do, probably have to be for wine rather than eating though.

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  8. I pruned my fruit trees, hoping I did a good job. Will see!

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    1. With your knowledge I'm sure you did!

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  9. Wow, you sure know tree pruning. Our neighbor used to trim our fruit tree's for us, but he is in his 80's now, and doesn't feel like doing it anymore, so our tree's got terribly over grown. My Mom finally trimmed them back majorly last year. I got to looking at our wonderful apricot tree's during the Summer, because they had some dead branches, and noticed cracking along the tops of the large branches that are oozing. Do you have any idea what it could be?
    Kimberly

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    1. I don't really grow apricots, although I grafted a couple last year. My advice would be to cut out any dead or diseased wood but as it's a stone fruit you need to do this in the spring as it's in leaf otherwise your encourage leaf curl on the plant. the trick with pruning fruit trees is to do it every year, otherwise when you do it they go crazy with extra woody growth.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. I love pruning but I tend to go a a bit wild.
    Jane x

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    1. Probably better than not doing it enough though. Some people go far too softly, they always regrow so make sure your getting the shape you want, best do it over a few years though!

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  11. People who do that kind of work, and who can cut down big trees near the house, make tons of money. Of course, it's dangerous too, which is why they get paid so much. I never got to prune my fruit trees, because after we planted them we got goats, and the goats devoured the bark off the trees and killed them.

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    1. My brother is a tree surgeon and tree climber so that's what he does for a living. You're right though it's pretty dangerous, I wouldn't want to go up some of the trees he climbs! His blog is here - http://www.davidalviti.com/
      As for the goats - I think the fruit trees would be more important in what you're setting up. Could you not fence them off? Although I know goats don't take much notice of fences!

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  12. Oh I do wish you lived closer, I could use some of your handy work on our fruit trees. They are in a dreadful state. Hubby pruned them...say no more lol! I think maybe I should learn how to prune :)

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