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

High-density apple summer pruning

Summer pruning mistake

I'm learning more and more about apple pruning with each year that goes by. This week, for example, I learned the hard way not to prune bearing trees while wearing a hat. Yep, that peripheral vision is essential to prevent me from cutting off baby fruits!

Fruiting apple limbs

More seriously, I'm also starting to fully understand some of the high-density apple pruning advice that I'd been merely following by rote in previous years. For example, I'd broken the rules and let my limbs get a little longer than is recommended. But now I realize that those longer limbs are going to be in danger of breaking under the weight of developing fruits! For this year, I'll depend on Mark's careful touch to tie them up without losing the apples, but wherever I can I'm not whacking back limbs so they end much closer to the main trunk.

Apple fruiting spur in June

I also had a minor epiphany that relates to Michael Phillips' comment that apple trees decide whether a spot is going to fruit or not in June of the previous year. "How does he know that?" I thought while reading his excellent book. Now I realize he simply used his eyes.

Yep, those two clusters of leaves atop my fingers are flower spurs while the next two buds up the branch turned into vegetative growth (new long stems). In my high-density grove, I'm whacking back long stems just past the new flower spurs to keep next year's fruits while preventing the gangly limb sydrome I mentioned previously.

High-density apple trees

Here's our oldest high-density row post-pruning. I'll admit that the trees do look pretty shorn. But hopefully that severe summer pruning will keep the trees small and productive so we wind up with even more apples next year.

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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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"Now I realize he simply used his eyes." --Anna

"It's amazing how much you can observe by just watching." --Yogi Berra

Anna, you two seem to put so much effort into your highly managed orchard plot. What are the advantages of that effort vs just letting apple trees grow without interference?

Comment by doc Wed Jun 1 07:32:05 2016

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