Helen Yoest over at Gardening with Confidence does a weekly roll call on her blog, recapping what she’s done each week. It’s a genius idea, especially for those of us who seem genetically unable to stick with a garden journal for more than a month.
So I’m steal…um, borrowing this idea from her in an effort to keep myself honest in the garden.
Freezing temps early in the week gave way to a balmy weekend. Saturday and Sunday temps were in the high 50s. Great for pruning; less great for my sinuses.
What I Did
I took the Spotts crew on a pruning odyssey on Tuesday. We pruned my established dwarf apple trees. Then I walked them through pruning my apple espalier in the back.
Turns out if you ignore an espalier for a year, it grows out of control. I cut back the ‘Fiesta’ apple to under the second tier in an attempt to establish better second-tier laterals.
Although these were planted as whips at the same time in 2014, the ‘Enterprise’ on the left is now at least a year ahead of the ‘Fiesta’ on the right. I grow the laterals at a 45-degree angle for a year, then tie the laterals to the wire in their second year of growth.
Later in the week, I finished up fine-tuning the pruning. Also, I whacked back a 2-year-old cherry. I did not cut it short enough when I planted it last year, so I took a risk on a corrective cut this year. I cut it back to about knee-high. If it responds well, great! If not, I’ll pull it out and plant something else.
In other news, I took advantage of the weather to start clearing last year’s out-of-control growth (largely redbuds and mulberries) in the back garden. It’s going to take a while.
What I’m Reading
Grow a Little Fruit Tree, by Ann Ralph. Ralph advocates using a combination of winter and summer pruning to keep your fruit trees small, instead of planting on dwarfing rootstock. You prune in winter to take advantage of the vigorous growth (and establish scaffolding), but use summer pruning to rein in size.
Using this technique allows you to keep fruit trees grown on full-size root stock at 4′ to 6′ tall and cram a lot more variety in the same space. You can imagine how that warms my 5’1″ gardener’s heart.
Using these principles, I’m going to plant a hedgerow of stone fruit in the front garden, planted on 3′ to 4′ centers. I am so excited.
SOMEONE BRING ME THE FRUIT CATALOGS!