Pruning & Protecting the Future Fruit

enterprise_appleThe daffodils are blooming, six weeks earlier than last year.  Is it global warming?  Is it the weirdness of Indiana weather?  I say “yes” to both.  Two weeks ago, I took advantage of an unseasonably warm day to inspect my fruit trees and do a little pruning.  I am an overly squeamish pruner so this year I decided to make up for years of neglect with some serious hacking at the trees I planted in 2009 (the ones that actually look like trees).  My 2010 and 2011 trees still look pretty twiggy.  They also suffered from severe nibbling by the local deer population, so my pruning focus for them was mostly surgical.

Once I was done cutting off bits and pieces, I determined that I really need more deer protection if I want these babies to grow.  The rule of thumb for trees (and all perennial plants) is that the first year they sleep, the second year they creep, and the third year they leap.  I have several that are due to start leaping and I don’t want the deer to interfere any more than they have.  So, last weekend I installed random bits of fencing around all my fruiting trees and bushes, except the Nanking cherry bushes, which I think might take over the Earth if left to their own devices.  They have definite nibble marks but also have formed about 5,000 buds that look poised to burst into flower.

covered_fig_miniI also made the bold decision to uncover my fig tree from its winter cocoon of foam padding, leaves, and plastic bags.  Last year I waited until Easter and a week later it sent up new stems from the rootbud, which made me worry that the rest of the tree was dead.  However, the rest of the tree perked up a week later and looked just great so I’m hoping for the same results this spring.  Actually, I’m hoping for an explosion of growth and even more delicious fruit for me to enjoy.  (I ate about 15 figs last year – yum!)

Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve planted since we moved in.  So far only the fig has produced fruit but that’s pretty typical, as trees and bushes take awhile to mature (especially when they keep getting chomped on).  If you’re in a hurry you can plant some small fruiting plants – I did eat some alpine strawberries and huckleberries last year from plants I grew from Baker Heirloom seeds.  And of course, there’s always gleaning – I think I scrounged about three pounds of mulberries from my neighbors’ trees, as they don’t consider them “proper fruit.”  Whatever; they were delicious.  Anyway, here’s what is in my yard:

  • Apple, Enterprise, 2009, Trees of Antiquity
  • bare_fig_miniApple, Akane, 2009, Trees of Antiquity
  • Apple, Liberty, 2010 Brambleberry Farm
  • Pear, Seckel, 2010 Brambleberry Farm
  • Fig, Chicago Hardy, 2010, Brambleberry Farm
  • Cherries, Nanking, 2010, Renaissance Farm
  • Chokecherry, 2011, Garden Fair
  • Pawpaws, 2010, Brambleberry Farm
  • Gooseberry, 2010, Brambleberry Farm
  • Jostaberry, 2010, Brambleberry Farm
  • Trifoliate Orange, 2010, Brambleberry Farm
  • Currant, Black (I think), 2011 Brambleberry Farm
  • Black Raspberry, Jewel, 2011 Brambleberry Farm
  • Blackberry, Apache (I think), 2011 Brambleberry Farm

Plans for this Spring

  • Elderberry, grown by me from a cutting and currently in a pot indoors
  • Blueberries, varieties TBD, Backyard Berry Plants
  • Kiwi, Arctic, from a fellow permaculturist

Some day my yard will be full of delicious fruit.  Soon…. this!

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