Branches from the 2014 Pruning at LaFarm
Will you floss more in the new year? Or, as Julia Child called dieting, is it in your nature to ‘reduce’? In these days of resolving it is nice to step back and look with clarity at why we desire to reinstate order in the new year. Is it the recovery from overindulgent holidays? Does the new calendar year help us make changes that have been on our minds during the daily routine of the year before? Is it the hope of a clean slate?
In the cold zone 6B of LaFarm I like to see this time of year as a natural time to see underneath the wild summer growth of the garden. I like to take a look at the bones of the production farm and see what is, what worked last year and what could be in the new season. Whether you make (…errr, or stick to your own) resolutions or not, it is a truism that this time of year is a sound time to look under the overgrowth and attempt to tidy up or pare down.
Tree Pruning Illustration by Kim Duffy
In the garden this tendency to make resolutions manifests in many ways, one of which is in pruning. When the leaves are off the perennials, the roots are in a deep freeze and the beds are a blank canvas I can see how I want the garden to develop. This vision stirs the desire to plan better and embrace the ambitions that seem so impossible in the heat of summer. It is also a nice time to be reminded that a little cutting back now often leads to a bounty later.
This winter I was careful to prune the LaFarm apple trees in a stretch of weather free from forecasted warm spells, as pruning breaks the dormancy of plants and a warm spell can produce a false spring, taking a toll on production. (Thanks to the folks at County Line Orchard in Kempton PA, for that info).
The Row of Fruit Trees at LaFarm, Planted in Memory of Bryan Hendrickson
I also looked to the Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening and the Mother Earth News article from Richard Korst, 1st published in 1976. My pruning strategy was to clear away dead branches, open the tree up for air and light and identify and strengthen the central leader of our young fruit trees. If a leader was not easily isolated I worked to train the tree to an open center form.
If you have some pruning to do this year, I hope this information helps. If you have done your pruning already lets hope for a good harvest in 2014. Here’s to a great new year!