Monday, March 4, 2013

A Time to Prune

The snow, like moth-eaten fleece, wears thin over the loamy bed that is now solid and unforgiving but slowly warming, bracing for the first impact of spade. Not long now.

Spring is looming and much is about to happen in the garden. Meanwhile, the dead of winter requires little of casual gardeners like us aside from reflecting, dreaming, planning.

There was pruning, though. In mid-January we pruned our apple trees for the first time, guided by instructions and illustrations we found online, like this helpful article from Weekend Gardener. The basic idea with these young saplings is to start planning the shape of the tree and to think ahead about how branches will grow, keeping them out of each other's way, preventing a bramble of twigs from clogging up the middle of the tree. It's a good bet we should have pruned even more aggressively than we did, but it's a little scary just to hack away at a living thing. I suppose that's why you do it in the middle of winter. The tree is well dormant, storing all of its life deep below the soil in its roots. It will simply awaken in the spring thinking, Hm. I feel lighter. I mean, if trees think. There's next winter, anyway, for additional pruning once we see how this summer's growth turns out.

The grape vines also need pruning this time of year, and I finally took care of that this weekend. Just in time, I think. Again, online articles were helpful in guiding my shears. The main idea with grape vines is to get rid of the newest growth.

We already cut back the raspberry bushes in the fall, when it's obvious which canes have just produced fruit and/or which canes are dead—both need to be removed. The blueberry bushes were too small for us to bother with pruning them (the rabbits did a lot of that anyway!), and actually, they might be dead. We'll soon see. I just purchased two more blueberry bushes. I may have to take soil amendment more seriously this time around.

This week is also the week we can reserve our spot at the community garden! ...And then wait a month and a half to get in there.

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