A Time to Prune

Today we pruned the trees in our home fruit orchard. Thirty trees altogether, there are apple, cherry, plum, and pear. Most of the trees are apple of which we have several varieties. These include cortland, honey gold, haralson, honey crisp, and macintosh. We had some other varieties – supposedly hardy to our area, such as liberty, winesap, and sweet sixteen but none have survived. Even though we are horticultural zone 4b, our winters can be harsh. I also believe the area in which we have the orchard is a micro-climate so that might be influencing which trees survive and which do not.

Most of the trees were planted fourteen years ago when we first moved to this house. We enjoy harvesting, eating, and preserving the fruit each year. The trees need some regular care and maintenance and my husband usually provides that. But, this year I offered to help. In celebration of this, he even bought me my very own Stihl brand pruner. This small, very sharp tool, will take care of many small branches that need to be cut away, providing an opening for light and air to reach to center of the tree and all the growing fruit later in the season.

Pruning the apple trees. March 2021. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021

In an hour, we accomplished a hard prune on some of the older apple trees. The plums and cherries did not need much. And, one pear will have to be cut down, as it is diseased.

Besides pruning in the late winter, in early spring we spray our trees with dormant oil before they bud. And, later in the season, after pollination by bees and the flowers are gone, we use an insecticide on a regular schedule to prevent too much pest damage to the crop. My husband stops spraying well before our projected harvest days. So, our fruit is not organic. But, it is also not as heavily sprayed as some commercial growers. We do not need our fruit to look pristine, and it usually doesn’t. But, it sure is tasty. And, we make sure to wash it well before eating or processing.

There is a wonderful children’s book by Gail Gibbons called The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree. I am reminded of it each year as the apple trees come out of dormancy and start to bloom. It’s a great time of year to share this book with your class if you live where apples grow.

Pruning the Fruit Trees in 2021. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021

I was happy to be able to help prune the fruit trees today. In the next month, we’ll be seeing some buds form and then have flowers after that. While we like our 60 degree whether, we are relieved to see it go and have a return to “normal” seasonal temps. Too much warmth, too quickly, fools the trees into thinking that they should bloom. But, flowers without bees do not produce apples you see!

Today is day 13 of 31 of the Slice of Life Story Challenge. Thank you to the TwoWritingTeachers.org for creating and hosting this challenge!

13 Thoughts

  1. Congratulations on your own Stihl pruner! My in laws used to live in orchard country. They didn’t have trees themselves, but they abutted them. I remember long walks along the two lane roads passing nothing but fruit trees.

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    1. We’ve had apple trees at both of our houses in Wisconsin, as well as where we grew up in Western New York. I enjoyed taking part in caring for them early this year! My favorite time is when we make our own cider in the fall, however! That is really fun and really delicious! And, my pruner worked great! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. What a nice day to get outside, and what a nice way to spend the time! I love hearing about the fruit trees and the care given. May you have much fruit for your labor! I am looking up the recommended children’s book right now. Thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are welcome! I hope we have a good harvest…we have not really had a stellar harvest since 2015…????climate change? I know that weather is playing a large part in when the blossoms are out and if they get pollinated. I hope your found and liked the book!

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  3. I absolutely loved this slice. It’s got so many of my favorite things: beautiful photos, captivating prose, new things to learn AND a book recommendation. Makes my heart happy.

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    1. They are such a source of joy for us, even though they are a lot of work at times. I want a bountiful harvest but then when it comes, we are overflowing in fruit until it all gets processed. You basically have to stop everything and attend to the fruit or else it will go bad. I hope your trees continue to do well.

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  4. “Even though we are horticultural zone 4b, our winters can be harsh.”

    As a zone 7 dweller, I’ll bet your winters can be harsh! I would like colder weather for the fruit trees; I know a lot of fruit trees grow in warmer climates, but there’s something about apples from a cold climate that I love!

    Enjoy that pruner!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The pruner worked great! We had all of the trees done in about 1.5 hours. Now, we have snow cover again, so I am glad we got it done. I love living where there are four seasons, but winter does get long sometimes. And, I love a good apple!

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