Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Add to My MSN

Spring Pruning

4/16/2012 1:26:20 PM

Tags: permaculture, pruning, perennials, fruit trees, nut trees, berry bushes, vine plants, sustainable farming, sustainable agriculture, homesteading, Bethann Weick

The close attention of spring pruningPruning is spring work, a seasonal task that engages us in a flurry of perennial hairdressing.  For a few quick weeks each year we are the barbers and tailors of our edible landscape.  Pruners in hand, with ladders, loppers, shears, and saws at the ready, we methodically move through our orchards, hedgerows, and gardens.  Spring has just begun, and we are busy tending to the many cultivated fruits, nuts, vines, and berries that are the focus of our food forest zones. 

Granted, most years we are perched atop crusty snow, working quickly in the cold of a morning to avoid the post-holing challenges of pruning in the mushy slush of a late afternoon.  This year, though, is certainly one of ease.  With bare ground and mild temperatures, there is no balancing of ladders atop ice, no waiting for the melt to see the raspberries, no snow-covered limbs of low-bush blueberries. 

Pruning is one of the first outdoor tasks that we undertake as the gardening season begins each year.  As such, it is accompanied by excitement at attending to living plants once more and the fresh-faced glow of days spent outside.  After a winter of cold, pruning on a sunny March or April morning can elicit a ready smile. 

It is, in a sense, making order out of chaos.  The goals of pruning are to encourage plant and tree health, and to maximize production.  As such, we are striving to shape the tree with the future in mind, directing the plant to grow into the template we have imagined for it.  While many fruit and nut trees will have a central leader followed by aerial branches, smaller berry bushes have a vase-like habit.  An effective pruner must be cognizant of the species with which they are working and sculpt accordingly.  “Extra” branches and limbs are eliminated to maintain an open form and to foster the arrival of sunlight and air to all aspects of the given plant.  Dead branches are cut off, as are suckers and waterspouts.    

In all pruning work, clean cuts are a must.  Effective pruning comes down to effective tools.  Blades must be sharp and function with precise alignment.  Cuts that are jagged or torn are slower to heal.  To minimize impact on the given bush or tree, cuts should always be made at a joint.  Trees, like humans, form scabs; to prevent disease and distress, attention must be made to prune with foresight and care. 

Think of yourself as a co-conspirator with your particular plantings.  You are part of a partnership, maximizing the potential of your edible landscape.  Fruit trees, nut trees, vine fruits, and berry bushes are your legacy to future generations.  Steward them well; the work and the reward offer much to enjoy. 



Related Content

A Permaculture Farm: The Perennial Revolution of Oikos Tree Crops

A Michigan permaculture farm defies the agricultural status quo by growing in harmony with nature. F...

Pruning Blackberry Plants in Early Spring

The process of training and pruning blackberry plants is demystified by a gardening expert from Gurn...

Great Fruit Trees for the Deep South, Pt. II: The Loquat

A profile of the wonderfully tough loquat tree.

Permaculture: A Plan for Sustainable Agriculture

Gardeners are learning about permaculture: a plan for sustainable agriculture. Homesteaders can use ...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.