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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pruning Stone Fruit

One of the tips picked up recently was the concept of pruning stone fruit foliage once the fruit has been harvested. This means a Summer not Winter pruning. The advantage is faster healing of the cuts and less chance of infections. The practice is to remove one third of the foliage, fertilise and deep soak. A useful link is Canberra Organic Growers Society and also ABC Gardening Australia  as well WA Department of Agriculture and Food Each of these provides a little extra information to round out the understanding of the art of pruning.

Pruning a few trees in Summer also means that the work load is spread over multiple months and seasons a real bonus in a busy garden schedule.

Many years ago we watched an episode of Gardening Australia which featured a gardener in southern Tasmania. He had pruned all his fruit trees so that the limbs were all about shoulder and head height. This allowed him to harvest the fruit without the use of steps or ladders and as he was in his eighties and living alone it seemed like a worthwhile practice.


We also try to get the pruning completed in most years with limbs within arms reach. For us attaching Fruit Fly exclusion bags is much faster if both feet are on the ground. Removing them when the fruit is ripe is also much quicker and simpler if you are not climbing up and down a ladder.

Fruit Fly Exclusion bags have worked extremely well for us and the cloth bags have also protected the fruit from birds and bats. The bags are best affixed just after the flower has finished and the small green fruit has just formed. Any later and the Fruit Fly will have already done its bit. It is quite simple to wander about the orchard each day or two with a bucket of bags inspecting the flowering trees and slip on a bag over any newly formed fruit. This gradual process takes away the tediousness of performing the task in one sitting. We keep the knots simple. Just a tightening of the drawstring and a single knot is sufficient. occasionally we will use a bow if the bag is hanging down so that it doesn't slip off.

Removal is not all that difficult. By keeping the knot simple the bags come of with ease. A wheel barrow with a container for the fruit and one for the bags. Making sure the bags have been shaken out to get rid of leaves and spiders they are allowed some time to dry if damp and then stored in a vermin proof container until next year.

And the Ferds have discovered their Christmas present. It took a while to work out how to get in. But once in they are like little kids cavorting in the pool.

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