Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How Many People Does it Take to Prune an Old Orchard?

With the early onset of spring this year, the available time for pruning slipped away faster than you can say, "Last Frost Date!"

Taking advantage of a glorious afternoon and the help of Peter and Eric (two yoga buffs), we set to work implementing Phase One of Jane's three-year orchard restoration plan.

Old Trees
Jane's strategy in the orchard is to take out the "Three D's"branches (the three D's being DEAD, DAMAGED and DOWNWARD-FACING). Peter and Jane leaped into action (Peter happily leaping into the trees)

while Eric and I chopped down and then chopped up the last of the transparent trees that we're taking out.

We still have one left (it is home to the treehouse) but we really don't like the apples and needed room to plant other varieties of fruit and nut trees.

The goal was to take out about 20% of the volume of each of the rambling old trees, removing branches that are crossing over or sprouting upwards from previous pruning sites. The result of a good afternoon's work is that the orchard looks MUCH better - much lighter, airier, and home to happier (and, we hope, more productive and easier-to-pick) trees.

This is an ongoing project, so no doubt there will be future posts...
Tree in Tree
(or, what happens when you put 
a yoga boy out on a limb...)

Young Trees (the ones we planted last year) - don't have to do much at this point - the plan is to let the babies grow!

Espaliered Cherry Tree
Inadvertently planted in the middle of the orchard, we'll need to pound in stakes, stretch wires, and attach the delicate horizontal limbs. Said limbs have plenty of buds, btw. In fact, the four new babies we planted last year look very healthy as we head into deep spring.

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