Friday, March 5, 2010

March Comes In With Pruning Shears

We've had a string of beautiful blue-sky days, with highs in the mid-forties. Winter isn't through with us yet; March is usually the snowiest month, with a proverbial State Basketball Tournament Blizzard, but we can see the promise of La Primavera.

I took my pruning shears out to give the apricot, which you're looking at, and one of the plums their first haircuts. I don't know what I'm doing, but I have a few principles I'm trying to follow.

Prune the trees while they're still dormant. They stored a bunch of sap last year, and I want them to use it to heal, rather than make leaves.

Don't take more than a third of the branches.

Try for a chalice shape.

Make sure that remaining branches don't shade each other.

Cut just outside of the "bark collars." These are the wrinkled, folded-looking bark that covers the places where the branches leave the trunk. This is where the trees heal best, and prevents rot.

Some of my older trees suffered from having a chicken for an owner. I put off pruning them because I didn't know what I was doing, and when I finally pruned them I had to cut bigger branches and make compromises. You can see where there just has to be rot getting into their trunks. Ya live an' learn, but I'm sixty-one years old. Shoulda started this stuff in the Summer of Love.

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