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

Shaping a mulberry tree

Mulberry tree

After learning the hard way that, no, mulberries really don't fruit much if half-pollarded each year, I regressed to the absolute opposite technique --- ignore the tree and see what happens. The result? Our tree is loaded with fruits this year.

Illinois everbearing mulberry

The downside of the leave-the-tree-alone technique is that I can't actually reach most of those berries. And since we chose an Illinois Everbearing tree (which ripens fruits slowly over multiple months), the techique of shaking the tree isn't really worth it. So the wild birds are getting most of the crop.

I think pruning/training experiment #3 will be pulling the limbs down into an open-center system like we did with our peach trees. Maybe the tree will still bear heavily and I'll still be able to reach the fruit? Only time will tell.

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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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Anna, I grew up on a fruit farm, tender fruit. The trees were huge, and very little of the fruit could be reached from a standing position on the ground. I am old, and this was common in my youth, all the farms had tall fruit trees, cherry, peach, pear, apple. I spent my summers picking tender fruit.

We used ladders, and picked the fruit into baskets hanging on harnesses that we wore. One became an "expert" at placing ladders securely, climbing to postions that freed both hands for picking, balancing at high heights with a heavy load of fruit, and negotiating descent with the heavy load.

Ladders work well for traditional fruit trees. Handling ladders is inconvenient, but very effective, and we harvested fruit up to 20 feet from the ground.

Comment by Maggie Turner Tue Jun 14 08:27:59 2016
Perhaps a weasel would help. Or maybe a monkey.
Comment by Josh Tue Jun 14 10:01:12 2016

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