Tag Archives: pruning

Pruning Points

July 25, 2021

Last week Ann saw a T-shirt with printed words, “I don’t get it.” That’s me and pruning!

I have been watching Ingela masterfully craft the orchard fruit trees for 10 years but, this week, it was I who grasped the pole pruner and reverently approached the William’s Pride apple tree.

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Mon Aug 9, 5:30-7:30
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I am grateful for my education from all of the pruning class instructors, pruning book authors and WSU extension pruning experts. However, most of the notes in my notebook are from Ingela. I hope she doesn’t choke if she reads this blog post.

 

A few rules for pruning fools that I applied this past week:

Apical dominance has critical significance. Each branch is wired to send some growth skyward. Leave some of those antennas on the tree, especially on a vigorous tree. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2017.01874/full

It’s seducing to practice reducing. Heading a branch back to a lateral, one at least one third to one half the size of the headed branch, opens up space and allows growth energy to be redirected. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/general-pruning-techniques

Heading is a mode where you cut near a node. The result is a stub and you often can flub. The resulting new growth can push out in all directions, making next year’s pruning challenging. Buds become stimulated for shoot growth, rather than flower (fruit) production.

Thinning is winning. Complete removal of a branch, just to the edge of the collar of the supporting branch or trunk, creates space and air flow. Thinning can also remedy twisting and/or over-loading a branch, causing it to break.

West of the Cascade Mounts, it’s air flow that counts. All pathogens fungal can really keep us humble. The late professor Bob Norton said it best, “Make sure you can throw a softball through the apple tree!”

Local classes on fruit tree pruning: Plant Amnesty, Sky Nursery, Seattle Tree Fruit Society, City Fruit, Lee Harrison-Smith, Seattle Tilth, and the UW Botanical Center

Ruth

Good tree fruit pruning articles:

The 1-2-3 rule of pruning – Turn wood into fruit on apple and pear trees.
Bas Van Den Ende
Good Fruit Grower. January 15th 2010 Issue
https://www.goodfruit.com/the-1-2-3-rule-of-pruning/

Spur pruning ‘delicious’ apple for improved spur quality and yield
Curt R. Rom, ActaHortic.1992.322.6
https://www.ishs.org/ishs-article/322_6

William’s Pride before

 

 

 

 

 

William’s Pride after

Pruners Without Borders

March 15, 2021

FECO volunteers, Reid and Jacob, both well over six feet tall, used their height last summer to glean a few figs from a tree in Green Lake Park. They agreed that the tree needed care.

This spring, Reid asked me if I might be interested in helping them prune the tree. I was game. “Sure! Ask Colleen Hackett, at Park N Rec, what she thinks. She knows us and she knows we prune fruit trees.”

Kevin, senior gardener for Green Lake Park, appreciated Reid’s ask for permission. Kevin expressed real delight in having volunteers eager to care for this tree. He explained that it had been planted in 2005 by a Parks Department employee but they could never afford the staff time to prune and care for it.

FECO Plant Sale! Sat Mar 20, 10-1
masks and distancing
everything from Starts to Finishes
Fig pruning class
Sat Mar 27, 10-11:30
donations welcome

We were delighted and a little surprised at the prompt and positive response. I met Jacob and Reid at the tree site. I have never seen a fig tree so dense and tangled. The fig looked as though it had never been pruned. It suffered from abuse – people pulling branches down or climbing the tree to get at the figs. This tree offered an opportunity to sharpen our rehabilitation skills, and do to so in a public space where we can’t control what others might do.

The important part of any pruning effort is to understand the goals of pruning for a particular plant. Kevin stated his goal, “If you can remove the very low branches and the huge forest of suckers around the base of the tree, my mowers will be able to get closer to the trunk.”

For our part, we decided that our long-term goal is a healthy tree that bears and ripens a good crop of figs year after year. We know it will take a few years of pruning to remove damaged and excess wood, and create good structure for fruit bearing.

Time to get to work. Reid, Jacob, and I brought out our loppers and pruning saws on a chilly, windy March morning. With a focus on reducing the tree mass, we made only thinning cuts. The heading cuts, that stimulate growth for next years fruit production, will need to wait until we have created good structure.

I’m grateful to Reid and Jacob for hatching the idea of taking this tree into our care. If you see a plant or area that seems neglected, ask the caretaker about it. You just might find yourself with a good opportunity to improve a public space, and learn a few things along the way.

Nancy

Is Anything Happening in the Winter? Don’t yawn yet!

February 16, 2021

“Do ya need any help in the winter?” Visitors stop us from our work and ask this question, with some frequency. My response is, “Yes! But the winter tasks are not very sexy.”

How lucky are we. During these winter months, an energetic group of volunteers kept their shoulder to the plow. Here is what they have been working on, to stay warm:

moving plants, making new beds, working on drainage, root pruning, sheet mulching, building rabbit fencing, propagating plants, accounting catch-up, building and installing art, weeding and pruning out invasive plants, pruning perennial plants and trees, searching for winter moth eggs, rebuilding plant supports, ordering seeds and planning for spring gardens.

Volunteers needed! by appointment please email
freewayestatescommunityorchard@gmail.com
Feb. 20, 11am Ingela tree pruning
Feb. 27, 10:30 Nancy grape pruning

Meanwhile, if you peel up that layer of snow, activity abounds and another group of volunteers are busy generating heat.

Tree roots grow in the winter, as long as there is moisture and the soil temperature is about 40°F or higher. On February 15, mid-afternoon, I took a soil thermometer and measured 40-42°F soil temperature in several locations at FECO. The air temp was 43°F and the snow temp was 35°F. The warm spot was within the chip pile at 50°F, a clear signal of active microbial life.

In fact, at 32° F, many microbes can thrive. Stoop down and imagine them snarfing up organic matter and ‘pooping’ out nitrogen and other nutrients that plants salivate for. Look closely and watch the plant root tips dribble out sugars, to bargain with the microbes for those nutrients.

All those biological and chemical processes require energy and produce heat; just the same as the volunteer work above ground. So, eat up first then come out to enjoy the outdoors. The volunteer schedule is on the Calendar page.

Many many thanks to our winter volunteers: Sue, Joe, Nancy, Miles, Nematode, Paige C, Rotifer, West, Reid, Worm, Lee, Amoeba, Jake, Bacteria, Becky, Jodi, Actinobacteria, Meg, AL, Gabbie, Pat, Karin, Kate, Fungi, and Melody

Ruth

Tree Dormancy
Kuhns, Mike (3/9/2020)
Utah State University Forestry Extension
https://forestry.usu.edu/ask-an-expert-new/watering_dormant_trees

Low temperature limits of root growth in deciduous and evergreen temperate tree species
Alvarez-Uria, P., Körner, C. (01/10/2007)
Functional Ecology, British Ecological Society
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2435.2007.01231.x

Lab 5: Soil and The Carbon Cycle, Part A: Soil, Carbon, and Microbes
Carlton College EarthLabs
https://serc.carleton.edu/eslabs/carbon/5a.html
Image: Cicle_del_nitrogen_ca.svg:
Dréo , Johann (User:Nojhan), (03/30/2006)

Microbe Diet Key To Carbon Dioxide Release
Manzoni , Stefano, Porporato, Amilcare (08/05/2008)
Duke University
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080731173125.htm