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Prepruning peaches

WatersproutsI can just see Everett pulling out his notebook and thinking, "Drat!  There's a step I forgot about even before I start guessing at how to prune my apple trees?!"  Don't worry --- prepruning is an obsessive-gardener extra step that consists of peering out the window at our peach tree and dropping by to visit with the other fruit trees all winter before pulling out my pruning shears.  As the old adage goes "Measure twice and cut once," so I guess prepruning is just my first measuring step.

Tent caterpillar eggsI fell down on the job this summer and neglected to summer prune, so part of my winter prepruning is figuring out how to make up for that mistake.  The thicket of watersprouts on my favorite peach tree should have been clipped back in June so that the tree would direct its energy into flower buds, and even though I missed that boat, I'll still need to shorten the watersprouts so that they won't shade my crop this summer.  Meanwhile, I remember what Praying mantis eggsa big difference in size, flavor, and beauty existed between the sun-kissed peaches and the few that sprung up on twigs hidden in the underside of the tree, so I'll just cut all of those soon-to-be-shaded twigs off so that my tree can pump her sugars into prime peaches this year.

I'm also keeping an eye on the trees for signs of other problems, like the encrustation above which houses tent caterpillar eggs and should be removed.  The larger, spongy egg case, though, is the overwintering home of baby praying mantises, so I want to make sure that my pruning doesn't impact these good garden predators. 

Finally, I'm guessing that these slightly swollen and blackened twig tips are the spot where our Oriental fruit moths went through their spring larval stage before burrowing into my peaches.  While the pests are probably overwintering under loose bark and in my mulch, I'll probably snip these problematic areas off and burn them just in case.  (Now's Oriental fruit moth twig damagealso the time for me to decide if it's worth it to try to build a short-term chicken paddock around the peach to let the chickens delete this year's pests before they invade my fruit.)

It's amazing how productive I can feel while peering out into the rain....

Our homemade chicken waterer will follow your flock anywhere, keeping water clean in a coop, tractor, or pasture.


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