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

The Pruning Book

The Pruning BookLee Reich's The Pruning Book is worthy of a lunchtime series, but it's summer, so you'll just get a review with a few choice tidbits.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book, from the structure (30 pages on pruning basics, then sections on each type of plant you might want to prune) to the visuals (which include both informative drawings and photographs).  I've always liked Lee Reich's method of researching and presenting facts, but still inserting bits and pieces of personal experience, and this book was no exception.

None of the information in The Pruning Book is particularly earth-shattering, and you can find most or all of it on extension service websites.  In fact, that's how I've been garnering my pruning information so far --- in bits and pieces from short articles.  However, reading the same information in book form, I connected dots I hadn't realized needed to be connected, for example realizing that pruning a hedge follows many of the same rules as pruning a fruit tree.  In both cases, you need to start training the plants during the first year, and to prune so that light hits all parts of the plant.  (As a side note, The Pruning Book has more information on hedges, pollarding, and espaliers than I'd found anywhere else.)

Do you understand why a heading cut makes plants bush out while a thinning cut merely redirects energy to existing limbs?  Did you know that thinning young fruits not only ensures the remaining fruits are larger, but also that the tree doesn't decide to skip fruiting next year?  I'll regale you with more tidbits as I summer prune our orchard and berry patch over the course of the next week.

Although I suspect I'll outgrow this book in two or three years, at the moment it's found a place on my permanent bookshelf.  Now, if I could just find an equally good book about grafting....

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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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I need to read this book, checking to see if my library has it!
Comment by Fostermamas Fri Jun 15 22:58:01 2012
Fostermamas --- I highly recommend it! I don't keep many books on my shelf, but this one will stay for a few years at least.
Comment by anna Sat Jun 16 18:41:39 2012
I didn't thin the peaches this year, deciding to go with smaller peaches and still get some instead of the squirrels and stink bugs getting the whole harvest (GRRRR) I didn't realize she could skip fruiting altogether by doing this - so happy I read this! I'm off to thin....
Comment by michele Sun Jun 17 09:17:44 2012
Michele --- Thinning does seem to be very much worth the effort. Not only for the reasons listed above, but because it helps prevent fungal diseases and increases flavor. Good luck with your peaches!
Comment by anna Sun Jun 17 19:48:46 2012

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