I had just barely gotten started on my weeding of the raised beds yesterday when hubby announced it would be a good time to prune the fruit trees. True, it is a good time since the buds are just starting to show and it's still super-easy to see each and every little branch that needs to be nipped off or cut back.
We usually do this job together because 1) it goes faster that way, 2) we can chat and talk over things while doing the job, and 3) he's tall and I'm short.
We attack each tree by working around the circumference of it, me taking care of the lower branches and he doing the higher ones. However, we've discovered this year that our semi-dwarf trees have now become so tall that even using the three foot long nippers, he still can't reach the topmost branches that need to be pruned. We ended up dragging out the old, sturdy, two-step stool from the garage and that got him up high enough.
Here's Papa Pea (and granddog Maisy seeing what she can do to help) next to one of our smaller trees after we finished pruning it.
We piled the trimmed branches in the garden cart and hauled them to the burn pile. A couple of times.
I came to the conclusion today (and not for the first time) that I would much rather raise and sell vegetables than own and maintain a fruit orchard and sell that produce. (Maybe it's because I'm short and vegetables are more my size; fruit trees are much bigger than I am and require too much stretching, reaching and working with hands above your head. Ugh.)
When he was in high school, hubby worked after school, weekends and summers for his biology teacher who owned an apple orchard. I asked him if they pruned all of the hundred-and-some trees by hand. He looked at me as if that was the dumb question of the century and said, "Of course. Do you think we rode on a machine that pruned the trees for us?"
He remembers they always pruned the orchard in March (this was in Illinois) and it took him and one other guy weeks of working every night after school and weekends to complete the task. The brush pile they created with the pruned branches was huge . . . about 6-8 feet high, 40 feet long by about 20 feet wide. They let it sit all summer and then burned it in the fall as soon as a few inches of snow covered the ground.
I remember getting apples and fresh pressed cider from that same orchard for a few years after we were first married, and the apples were delicious and products made from them first class.
But I still don't like pruning fruit trees and would never contemplate having an orchard of that size.
We didn't finish all of our trees yesterday. But today's another day and we hope to wrap up the project by this afternoon.
Now then, when am I gonna get my raised beds weeded?
1 hour ago