Tag Archives: pruning

The Perfect Fruit Tree Owner

August 29, 2019

McIntosh. My favorite.

Most will say you can’t grow a Mac here. Well, there is at least one tree in the Seattle area. Lori Brakken, apple sleuth, drives around and slams on the brakes when she spots any apple tree. She saw a Mac in the Seattle area and called me up. I visited the tree last winter and got permission from Kathy, the tree owner, to take some scion wood. (Allison and I made two grafts this spring and they both are doing well!)

Per the orangepippen website,  this apple was discovered by a John McIntosh, a farmer in Ontario in the early 19th century. The McIntosh was suited to the cold climate of the area as it achieves its best flavor in colder apple-growing regions.

Sat, Aug 31, 10-11, Qi Gong
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Sun, Sep 15, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Oct 5, 10-12, Work Party
Sat, Oct 12, 2-5, Cider Fest

“The McIntosh style is typified by attractive dark red or (more often) crimson colors, and a crunchy bite, often with bright white flesh. The flavor is simple and direct, generally sweet but with refreshing acidity, and usually a hint of wine – often referred to as vinous”.

Kathy was anxious for us to return this summer for pruning and to give her a yearly management plan. Her tree has apple scab so she has been instructed to pick up all the apples and leaves. (Venturia inaequalis resides in the litter.)

Kathy is the perfect fruit tree owner. She cares about the tree,  is eager to learn how best to care for it and allows us to glean much of the fruit for the food bank.

“I’m in the arts”, Kathy announced. “I am not fruit tree expert. I was given an assignment in a training to draw part of a tree, once each month for three months. I chose this apple tree. Noting the details and the changes really woke me up to nature.”

Structural pruning is usually done in the winter but we “took a bit off the top and the sides”. Kathy wanted pruning on the street side so auto owners would stop breaking the branches. She also wanted a walkway between the tree and a nearby bush. Pruning has to consider all of the various goals.

Allison is tall and she managed the long-handled pruners. She ate as many apples as she could while pruning. In the end, Kathy was satisfied. “The tree looks good, like it did in years past!”

Below is a comment by Bruce, from the orangepipen website:

I grew up in central Pennsylvania and with the scent of McIntosh apple pie and apple dumplings, next door, in my aunt Eleanor’s kitchen. The stand-out attribute of this variety in my mind is the distinctive aroma. Quite unlike any other. The fruit, also unlike any other, is extremely delicate; that’s why I think most grocers avoid stocking them (the phrase I’ve heard them called is “smash and toss” apples) They bruise easily then rapidly mush and rot. They are like a beautiful sunset. Awesome and short lived. I’m attempting (with limited success) to grow them here in Western Washington, difficult because it doesn’t get cold enough in the winter. I will continue the effort because these are the best apples EVER !

Ruth

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
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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!

Ruth

 

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