The work to bring the pond area back to us continues. This Sunday, it was the turn of our two apples trees to have some (tough) love and care. We are lucky enough to have an experienced volunteer come and work with these trees. He has been managing an old orchard on Dartmoor for many years, so knows a bit more that we do!
When working with nature, we trust its ability to recover, and sometimes things can look a loot worse before we see the benefits. In this case you will most likely agree that the trees actually look a lot better despite their slightly over due prune.
The first job was to remove the ivy. It is a great environment for all sorts of life like gold crests, as ivy hides lots of creatures these birds like to eat. However it is these very slugs and woodlice that can also cause damage to the trees as they nibble at the bark and soft parts. This could could cause disease, and later in time, the ivy can even pull a tree down as it dies off.
Now, step back with a cuppa and really ‘look’ at the tree.
Where are branches crossing? Is the bark damaged or diseased? Is there any dead wood?
Next, imagine the tree as an open bowl or goblet shape. This shape allows air and light to reach all of the branches, flowers, leaves and later, fruits. When pruning a fruit tree this is what you need to aim for.
Our trees have been unloved for so long that they are very twisted and damaged. This tree still needs more work, but for now it will have to wait as the tree puts on its spring growth.
Pruning a tree in the winter, will mean you need to keep an eye on it as the summer arrives, the tree will grow loads of new thin branches as the sap rises in the coming months.
Pruning a tree in the summer, whilst you have to say goodbye to all those lovely fruits, it does mean that the tree focuses on growing the remaining fruits and not growing branches.
The ‘brash’ or bits of branch and twigs have been put to one side to ‘season’ or dry out. Next year they will make ideal kindling.
The trees are now more ‘open’ and the ivy has been removed. We will keep an eye on them and in the summer months have another look to see what we can do next.
For now, the trees can be left to get on with growing.
Have a peep over the fence at break time and watch the trees flourish!