I have been noticing the lack of sun and time spent outside this winter. There are so many reasons why I don’t “get out” enough. Some of my constraints are work schedule, cold temperatures and limitations due to our children’s tolerance to cold weather. Winter seems so long when you’re house bound.
Then apple and pear pruning season arrives, almost as medicine to help us ensure we have meaningful work in nature, in the middle of winter. Our pruning season starts in February, and if it was like last year, lasts until the end of March. We are pruning our trees when they are dormant, but also when the most severe weather is behind us. That way the cuts that we make to the trees will heal over better. Our orchard was in great need of pruning when we purchased it and we know we have 3 years of guaranteed pruning rigour to “restore it”. This is Pruning Year 2.
Pruning lets more light reach the fruit so makes for larger, better quality fruit. In the case of our Sandow apple variety, branches have a tendency to grow vertically. This preponderance for vertical growth makes it harder to pick apples because they are generally out of reach on large trees such as ours. Most apples actually set fruit on branches that grow horizontally. By pruning we try to eliminate those branches that won’t produce apples (vertical) and preserve and encourage the horizontal branches.
Through pruning we also aim to eliminate branches that cross each other, or branches that reach out into neighbouring trees. Last summer we purchased a Stihl Power Pruner which Philip is using in the orchard this year. Cuts aren’t as precise as those completed with our hand tools but the power tool will enable us to prune the orchard more efficiently, given that our time is precious.
Our children benefit from pruning season as well. They love to see meaningful tasks being undertaken and of course they enjoy the glimpses of spring that we experience on these Perfect Pruning Days.