The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Snaking an apple tree

Snaking a treeWhat do you do if your dwarf apple tree is as tall as you want it to get...and it keeps on growing? Whacking the top off a tree is seldom a good idea since that type of pruning often prompts a tree to use up its energy sending out lots of useless watersprouts. Enter a technique known as snaking.

The photo to the right shows one of our high-density apple trees that exceeded Mark's ability to easily reach the top this past summer. As a result, I tied down all of the limbs at the top of the tree so they became horizontal, instead of vertical, branches. Inevitably, one or more of these limbs will bend upwards again next summer, at which point I'll pull the top back down on itself accordion-style. This method of slowing a tree's upward growth prevents the accumulation of watersprouts, while also keeping a tree's fruits within easy reach.

The other alternative? You can do as my older sister did and go out after dark as snow starts to fall and climb your apple tree all by yourself in an effort to reach the fruits at the very tip top. But I can't say I recommend it....



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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.



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We always used ladders, worked for five decades on tall trees, might work for troublesome spots short trees.
Comment by Maggie Turner Mon Nov 3 08:46:41 2014

...to extend your reach!

But I agree that molding your tree into an easily-picked shape is definitely a more elegant solution. :-)

Comment by Jake Tue Nov 4 02:50:12 2014





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