Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pruning workshop

It was a chilly but quite informative morning! There were 10 people in the class this morning. I learned a tremendous amount and am SO glad I went. We spent a little over an hour in the barn (kind of heated- it was maybe 40 degrees in there) with a lecture on pruning basics.
My take home information.
Then, it was out into the orchard for some hands-on practice. We first watched as the pros pruned a tree, then we did another as a group with the class members making decisions that were okayed by the instructors. Finally, we divided into pairs and had a tree of our own, with the three instructors wandering through with suggestions or to answer questions. All in all, we spent about 2 hours out in the orchard.
Looking into the orchard.

Here we are, checking out one team's tree.
The instructor for the class is the owner of the orchard. He has only had it for about two years, taking it over from the original owner who was retiring. A lot of the trees in the orchard haven't been pruned in years so it was a great opportunity to get some practice. After tramping about for a while, we returned to the barn to continue the classroom part, this time talking about the differences in root stock, disease resistance and planting information. He had each of us tell our 'story' and why we were there and what our goals were. I did get some good advice. He advised me to cancel my order for the Granny Smith apple. I knew we were getting pretty far north for it since it has a really long growing season. He told me that it probably won't ever ripen to the point where it would taste good here. Good information to have. He did offer some suggestions for varieties and offered to order trees for the class from his supplier. So, I have two more trees on order. I'll have to call about my tree order that I placed and see if I can cancel my granny smith tree. I never got my blueberries ordered so maybe I'll apply that money to blueberries.
After I got home (not till 1:45) I put my knowledge to use. I did have an opportunity to ask the instructor about our apple 'bush' and got some suggestions. It will be a multi-year project to rehab this tree. I was told to never cut more than 1/3 of the wood mass of the tree per year. We got our the chainsaw and got to work.
We cut out a few trunks to open up the tree.

and generated a lot of brush.
Hmmm, don't you use apple wood for smoking?
I also strung some chicken wire around the base to keep the rabbits away. With the extended snow cover that we've had, they have really been going after the tree trunk. Since we exposed some new areas, we didn't want to give them the opportunity to completely girdle the tree.
All in all, it was a fabulous day. I made some good connections with people in the class and feel like maybe, just maybe, I can make more community connections still. And I definitely feel better about getting into fruit production mode.


  1. Sounds like a great class. Especially hands on! That is always the most beneficial. We shall refer to you as our "Prune Queen". Queenie for short! I bet you couldn't wait to get your pruners after your apple bush! I think it did look a little better!!...debbie - Happy Valentines Day!

  2. That sounds awesome!! I would have loved to take that class. I only have one lone apple tree but I would love to know how to care for it. It is over grown and in need of some TLC that I don't know how to give it.

    Also if you are interested come check out my new post about my new cold frame.

  3. Apple smoked pork chops can't be beat!

  4. Ooh, this must have been great!
    And, let me tell you, we used some fruit tree wood last summer in our fire pit and cooked steak over it. It was so good I almost cried. :-)

  5. Ack, I would have loved to attend something like this, even though I don't have any trees! Its the learning that is so addictive.... and being hands-on about it makes things memorable and better to put into practice. Glad you were able to get some personal tips too. Your fruit production will be stellar!

  6. How great to go to the workshop and then have a chance to come home and practice while it is all fresh in your mind. Glad it was worth your time. It is always just a bit frustrating when you sign up for something and don't learn more than you read in a book.

  7. Hey Queenie, I have awarded you with THE FRIENDLY AWARD because your posts are so friendly and warm and I learn from you. Enjoy your posts so much! check it out!...debbie

  8. I took a similar class two years ago (actually yours sounds more informative) and I too, learned a lot. Sounds like a good day.


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