Tag Archives: pruning

It’s A Game Of Mistakes

October 20, 2018

Why didn’t soccer coaches ever have anything positive to say at halftime? Because they had just watched 45 minutes of errors. Even the pros only complete 57% of their passes in the final third of the field. I often feel this way about gardening; it’s a game of mistakes.

First was my failure to outwit the winter moth. The female does not fly. She has to crawl up the fruit tree to lay her eggs, from which, larvae emerge and eat the fruit tree blooms. I smeared Tanglefoot on the trunks to stop her in her tracks. Problem was, I put it on too late. I thought I had until mid-November but, not so. Not only did we battle with the winter moth larvae this spring but also the oblique-banded leaf roller larvae showed up – a more difficult opponent. I will double my efforts to come up with a better strategy this winter.

Just look at this little devil – the larvae of the strawberry root weevil. Sometimes there were two of them inside the root, in total cooperation. I was pressing my luck hanging on to those wonderful Glooscap (Canadian) berries, which I had planted in 2011! This year they were still sweet as ever but not productive. It’s no wonder. I should have paid heed when the pros told me to keep strawberry plants only a few years.

The elderberry produced quite a bit of fruit, bless its lil ole heart, in spite of the fact that it was a sufferin’. I pruned dead branches all summer. Finally, I sat and studied it a bit. Someone was making tunnels through the bark and into the trunk. I peeled back some flaky bark and watched as the following scampered back to darkness: black ants, red ants, tiny gray bugs with antennae, a slender shiny black insect that jumped, a little red mite. Actually, I have a feeling all of these critters were just using the network created by someone else. I won’t know until dormant season when I will have to do some vicious pruning. Observation is king in gardening!

Sun. Oct 21, 2-4, work party
Sun. Nov 18, 2-4 work party
Sun. Dec 16, 2-4 work party
Bring your wallet for homemade goodies

Nancy also had growing pains. It’s a snap to grow grape plants if all you want are vines. To get fruit, you have to prune properly. Nancy thought she could choose between cane pruning and spur pruning so she developed some of each. Wrong. The take-away from a WSU pruning class was that, in the maritime NW, spur pruning reduces the number of fruit-bearing buds. So, this winter she will have to rework the vines and train them for long-term cane pruning.

Then there’s summer pruning. She thought all you had to do was take out excess growth. She took another class. Wrong. Wow! It’s so much more complicated. Essentially, you need to do three things: mark the shoots that will become next year’s canes, remove some but not all of the non-fruit bearing shoots, train but don’t tip the fruit bearing shoots. Training means get them up off the ground and onto the trellis, but don’t snip off the terminal bud.

Not to mention the continuing saga of failed pickling cukes, the appetite of the rats, the disruption from the squirrels, and the off-leash dogs. All this to deal with and now … the bunnies are coming!



Off With Its Head!

March 3, 2017

The bold Honeycrisp is too tall! “Bring down the height and the apples are within reach, plus the ladder can stay in the shed.” We all nod with approval. Ingela is convincing.c-wp_hc-before-20170218_006c-hc-after-wp_20170218_007

Eight of us gathered in February to enjoy Ingela’s annual pruning class. She walked around each tree, backed up, pondered, then attacked. Swiftly and gracefully, she snipped, sawed, and talked us through the process.




Ingela will train the new Harrow Delight pear to a central leader so we have different training styles in the orchard. She carefully ties down the new scaffold branches, denying their desired upright position.sm-pear-before-wp_20170218_001sm-pear-after-wp_20170218_004





Tips from Ingela for your bypass pruners:

  • * For an effective tool – Always keep a sharpening tool for your   pruners on your belt.
  • * For sanitation – Have a bottle of 50% water 50% alcohol in your tool belt.
  • * For clean cuts – Adjust your pruners so there is minimal play between the blades.
  • * Annual cleaning – Note the bolt that locks the pruning blades. When you take the tool apart for an annual cleaning, add a little lithium grease.

What a pleasure to watch an excellent tradesperson. Ingela’s ease with trees comes from years of pruning plus a complete knowledge of how fruit trees grow.

Join us some time in April when we graft a Rescue scion onto the new Harrow Delight pear tree. We should get better pollination from this strategy, but it’s just as much an excuse to provide a fun educational experience.

Ruth Callard

Fruit Tree Pruning – Short-term Losses for Long-term Gains

Februrary, 26, 2014

On the cool Saturday morning of February 15, nine of us huddled around the multi-varietal021514 big picture pear photo 31 web pear tree. We listened closely, moving from tree to tree, absorbing as much information as we could during the comprehensive pruning class taught by Ingela Wanerstrand.

Since the fruit trees are just coming into their fourth year, much of the pruning advice centered around training the trees and roots for strength in early years so they will bear well in the future. A few winced when she urged us to take off the fruit for the first three or four years. After looking at the faces, she followed up with this consolation, “Well, maybe leave one.”

Ingela initially inspected the results of her pruning from the prior year. She was very pleased, mostly with the presence of many fruit buds near to the center of the trees.

Taking aim at the blackberries!
Come for any amount of time that works for you. Or, bring muffins.
Sat, Mar 1, 2-4pm, Work Party
Sun, Mar 16, 2-4pm, Work Party
Sat, Apr 5, 2-4pm, Work Party

She demonstrated spur pruning, challenges of twisting branches and blind wood, how to work with apical dominance through pruning and bending, the importance of fruit thinning, open vase versus central leader shapes, and tying branches for less or more vigor. The magic is in the way she constantly made decisions about priorities and design.

She had a choice of taking out a branch connected to a branch or a branch connected to the trunk and she chose to keep the branch connected to the trunk. On the multi-varietal pear, she headed back the more vigorous Harrow’s Delight so the other varieties could compete. She chose to head back a branch to another side branch of similar size so as not to create too many water sprouts.

We all beamed when we got to the Liberty. It is our star. It has a beautiful open-vase 021514 Liberty saw photo 23 web rotatestructure with a whorl of sturdy branches and well-angled crotches. (Who would have known from it’s first summer when it was a very tall stick with hardly a branch!)

Ingela loves to go back each year to the trees she prunes. Some trees she has been pruning for 17 years! “That’s the best way to learn,” she urged, “by looking at the results of each of the choices you made.”

We are delighted that Ingela likes to keep coming back! Stay tuned for another class from the master next February.