Monday, February 17, 2020

February is Peach Pruning TIme

We have had our peach trees for over 10 years.  They were the first trees we planted at our new home.  And in the last decade, we have had one, maybe two really awesome peach cobblers. The rest of the years... nothing.   This is largely because we planted the trees and then completely ignored them until spring time, when we lamented the lack of peaches, or that the peaches were full of worms, or whatever...

Part of the neglect is that we have never pruned the peach trees.

When we first planted them, I fell under the typical excitement of getting a new fruit tree.  'I just bought this tree, and now you want me to cut it down for the first three years.  No way, man.  I want *peaches*.'

As I became a slightly more experienced gardener, I have learned that pruning results in bigger, fuller trees that do more of what you want them to.

But by that time, the trees had grown in their own way, and I have had no idea how to prune them.  And the job only kept getting bigger, as the trees grew.

Now, these trees have gotten so tall, that even if they did produce any peaches, we wouldn't be able to reach them!

So this year, I was determined to work on them.  We have had a very warm winter, so we will probably not get many peaches anyway.

I watched a bunch of videos on youtube.  Unfortunately, most of those are of saplings or very young trees.  And even the videos of the "mature" peach trees looked nothing like ours.  I downloaded information from the internet and read through it all.  I took a photo of our tree and brought it to the Natural Gardener to get some advice. (This was the most helpful of all) Turns out, now is the time to cut off some of the branches, but trimming the height will happen in the summer, when it is too hot for the tree to respond to the pruning with renewed growth.

So, with all the of the internet, and the advice of NG, Dave and I tackled the tree yesterday.  We first pulled off one of the main upright branches.  Just taking off that one branch, we were stunned at how much it opened up the tree.  This gave us some courage to take off another.  In doing so, I saw that many of the branches had some moss on their underside, a clear indication that the branches were not getting enough light.

We had started with the front peach tree, since this is the one that we have only ever gotten *one* peach off.  We figured there wasn't much to lose there ;o)

But the feeling of success from the first tree rode us over to the second tree.  We did not take off as much there, but we did take off some.  

While at NG, they told me that the most important thing to do was to fertilize the tree.  Well, years and years ago, Dave had bought some "fruit tree fertilizing spikes."  They have sat in my little gardening bookcase for years.  I guess I never knew when to use them, never bothered to... I don't know.  So today I took the whole box of them, and pounded them into the ground.

We are still not expecting many peaches this year, due to the warm winter.  But I figure with the fertilizing and pruning, maybe, just maybe, next year we can make another peach cobbler.  

Gardening: a meditative practice in hope and anticipation. :)

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