With a brief instruction from some lovely lady on a You Tube video, I felt confident enough to give all the lavender a brutal haircut. I’m the kind of person that really needs to see something done so I can understand it, although I was still a little nervous and if it wasn’t for all that new growth coming in at the base I may have chickened out completely.
I took up a relaxed position on the deck in the sun that eventually emerged from the thick fog of the morning. I put my wonky wheelbarrow at the end of the table and worked my way through my mini lavender nursery and chopped off all their heads. It was such soothing work.
This gave me some kind of pruning confidence, or did it trigger the inner destructive megalomaniac inside my kind and peaceful outer me. I moved on to my soft fruits and took any dead stuff out of the blueberries, trimmed back the gooseberries with an eye to not getting completely mangled by spikes when harvesting a bountiful crop this season – here’s hoping. I pruned the black and red currents but was quite timid and only took their tops off. Although all the pruning in the world wouldn’t have done anything for one of my red currants – it was dead. It was the one the goats nibbled in the summer. It seems red currants don’t like being nibbled by goats – the shock kills them. So I need another one. Ohhh ohhh a shopping trip – yay!
Then I gave my teeny tiny bay tree a bit of a trim and scrapped all these scale bugs off all the leaves so once its sap starts to flow it will be off to a flying start. Beside it was my climbing rose that didn’t escape the snip as began to remember some vague rose pruning advice, so I took it back to just four shoots and tied them into the ‘trellis’ behind it so it looks like an espalier tree. I use the term trellis loosely as it is just a big rusty hunk of steel grid that is used to reinforce concrete and it is only really pretty if you screw up your eyes and think ‘weird rustic’. Hopefully it will soon be covered in flowers and you won’t see the trellis.
By now I was joined by the Joeyosaurus, desperate to earn pocket money, so we lazily drove down to the orchard and he was charged with putting all the prunings in the back of the car. I really didn’t want to use the wonky wheel barrow for this. It would have been a complete nightmare. Half way through the task, the Joeyosaurus announced $2 isn’t enough for this job, so I upped it to $3, if he managed to stay to the end. But he didn’t manage to stay to the end, claiming he’d been poked in the eye with a stick. I think the hut building Tim the Helper and Hubby the Un-Gardener were doing was more of a distraction. There was actually a speck of dust in his eye but he is fine now. I only paid him $2. I’m a hard boss.
I started out in the orchard timidly and removed mostly dead stuff, branches that were crossing over and ever so slightly opening up the trees. By the end I was so much more confident and I was remembering other things like not to have branches that grow downwards, check for shape and balance, and if the fork is too tight it is likely to split under the weight of the fruit so take it out now. Before you know it I was really hacking away at these poor trees and even got the pruning saw out. I’m always fearful of chopping off my fruiting spurs. I think I did a good job. I hope I did a good job.
The last act of violence I wreaked upon my poor orchard was to hack away at the feijoa bush that finished fruiting about a month ago. I remembered that they are pollinated by birds and so it should be easy for them to get through. The rule of thumb I was taught was you should be able to throw a frozen chicken through it without it getting stuck!
All I need to do now is book the kids in for haircuts and all my pruning chores are done. The next thing for the orchard is a winter wash spray – but I hope I’m not too late for that. I looked back of the list and I seem to be making great headway. I am really pleased with myself. Although I am still procrastinating with the strawberries and I am almost beside myself with anxiety over the onions – why won’t they grow faster!
Come again soon – I think a round of general weeding is in order to see visual change.
Sarah the Gardener : o )
Wow, what an accomplished day. I love pruning. It appeals to my organizing side I think. I love that last photo of the move. Really beautiful.
Hi Alys. Pruning always fills me with dread as I have invested so much in my plants to get them big enough to prune, and then I’m scared I’ll do it wrong and kill them. I think I need a few more years of successful pruning to begin to enjoy it.
Cheers Sarah : o )
I’m not sure why I’m so fearless when it comes to pruning. I’ve never killed a plant by over-pruning. They woody variety are so forgiving. I’ll cheer you on. Go, Sarah, go, Sarah.
We made our feijoa look like one of those pruned standard poodles and it still came back with a vengeance, just goes to show that they are virtually indestructable 😉
Hi Fran. It’s not until fruit trees have been there awhile and give you a decent enough crop to allow you to relax while pruning, safe in the knowledge that if you get one branch wrong you haven’t stuffed up your entire crop! It’s good to know that I won’t have done too much damage to my feijoa.
Cheers Sarah : o )
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