Friday, 1 March 2013

the first day of spring

It's the first day of spring and it's St David's Day here in Wales.

We finally managed to finish all the winter pruning in the orchard this week.  The books say that the trees are dormant from November to March.  As you can see from the buds, this pear tree clearly hasn't read the books and has woken up early.

pear tree bud

When you're doing formative pruning on young trees I think it's helpful to know an important thing about how trees grow:

they don't stretch - they add on.

So when you're looking at your tree it's not going to get bigger like someone is blowing it up with a bicycle pump - it's going to add bits on like building with Lego.  The branch at nose height will always be at nose height unless you cut it off, (the branch - not your nose), it will never be 10 feet up in the air.  With young trees you should be working on making a nice sturdy framework with well spaced branches.  The bit that's going to have the fruit on it comes later.

here is a before and after of a young apple


I know it looks a bit drastic, but the mature tree will be so much better if you prune for shape in the first few years.  Some trees will produce a bit of fruit when they're quite young, which runs the risk of the branches snapping under their own weight.  Now that's much more heartbreaking than a bit of strict pruning in the name of sturdiness!

And now - as it's St Davids Day, a gratuitous picture of a (giant) daffodil....

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus - Happy St David's Day

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