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

Summer pruning and thinning

Thinned red

Even though I didn't mention it on my post about fungal-disease prevention, another big facet of my campaign is summer pruning.  This is something I do anyway to allow light to hit fruits and to prevent trees from putting too much energy into watersprouts, but the process has a side effect of letting fruits dry off faster so they're less prone to blights.

With that in mind, I started wondering if thinning the fall-fruiting canes of my everbearing raspberries was in order.  I thin out the overwintering canes so the spring-bearing shoots are spaced apart, but last year I felt I should have repeated the endeavor in early summer to get larger fall berries.  The raspberry patches had turned into quite a thicket this year (even more so than usual), so my urge to thin was also prompted by wanting to be able to see the currently ripening fruits during this first harvest season of the year.


This is an experiment (so replicate it at your own risk) since I've never read about anyone thinning their raspberries in the summer.  But it felt right --- the photos above both show the patch after thinning out over half of the fall shoots, and you can tell the canes are still quite dense.  As an added benefit, I was able to layer the cut-off stems (and any weeds I found in the patch) along the sides of the row to top off the mulch.

Rooting figs

Of course, I'm also thinning the trees I usually visit at this time of year (primarily the peaches, although heavy fruit set has resulted in fewer watersprouts this year than usual).  When I stopped by our largest fig, I wasn't sure whether it needed any pruning, but I did decide to rip up any small shoots around the trunk.  It turns out three had already rooted!  If I didn't kill them by leaving them in a bucket of water during a blazing afternoon, these baby figs will go into pots with my other rooting cuttings and then into the ground this fall.

Ripening black

The last item on my summer-pruning agenda is the black raspberries and blackberries, who get their tops pinched instead of being thinned.  Looks like we'll be adding another variety to our daily berry harvest soon!

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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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