Pruning Season

While family on the east coast has dealt with masses of snow, our area of the Olympic Peninsula has received over five inches of rain this week alone. Forks, WA, west of us, one of the rainiest places in the contiguous states with 120 inches of rain annually, received about nine inches last week. All this moisture has thoroughly saturated the soil and left the gardens muddy.

Undaunted, the hens continue to free range and pull worms from the mud. They’re back to laying at least a few eggs a day, for which we are thankful.

IMG_7389.jpgThe mud, barren trees, and gray skies are verging on monochromatic, so it’s a pleasure to view berries and small violas persisting through January.

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Hubby and I spent this weekend down past the raspberry hedge in the orchard. The fruit trees were in need of pruning. We’re amazed by how many hours and how much concentration this task takes.

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Pruning requires a critical eye, bravery, and an unwavering focus on the end goal of productive, open, vase-shaped trees. Some of the largest limbs we sawed from the Yellow Transparent apple trees, but even the young Italian prune plum required shaping. Structure is much more apparent in the winter, making pruning easier.

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Clean-up meant heaving an enormous pile of small and large fruit tree branches over the low orchard fence toward the burn pile. We’ll burn these when things dry out a bit.

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Gray skies, barren trees, and patches of wintry dirt may appear dull, but the truth is, much is growing at Coppertop. The garlic bed is filled with sprouts, the hyacinth and daffodil borders show signs of life, and spring’s promises lie two short months away!

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2 thoughts on “Pruning Season

  1. March, you and your husband are positively intrepid! I can’t imagine undertaking to prune a tree on my own. I had an arborist here a few days ago to check something, and she commented on the disastrous condition of many of the trees in the neighbourhood, which are now quite old and which people simply topped years ago, before there was a bylaw forbidding such actions. She explained why topping was tantamount to starving the tree. Anyway, pruning takes so much skill and courage. I do admire the two of you! You say your garlic is beginning to poke through the ground – so is mine, through a thick leaf mulch. I also tucked a hyacinth bulb (from last year’s flower) in to the soil, curious to see if the leaves survive the onslaught of slugs (if they do, it will be a first!). Last year, when I cleared a big patch of shasta daisies and daffodils to make way for pole beans, I dug up a lot of bulbs and kept them in a mesh bag in the shed, totally ignored and neglected. Most of them have sprouted shoots, so I stuck them in the ground at the base of a linden tree. They’re still there, a few days later, which means the squirrels haven’t yet noticed them, or the squirrels really are not interested in checking to see if there is a nut lurking beneath them. I hope the daffodils, and the other bulbs around the tree, survive, because it will look so pretty in a few weeks, with succulent moss covering the ground, and colourful blossoms dancing in the breeze, heralding the spring.

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    • Fun to hear that you’ve got bulbs springing to life, too, Sabine! Squirrels don’t bother daffodils in my experience, so hopefully you’ll have some gorgeous blooms. We tried our very best to be both cautious yet brave with the pruning. An area arborist will give a pruning lecture here this week, and we attempted to heed his advice from last year’s lecture. I’m planning on bringing photos to the lecture and asking him a couple of tough questions, though. He’s an excellent resource and one whose skills we may use when we get older and scared of ladders. 😉

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