"If You Can't Eat It, Don't Plant It"

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pruning Your Fruit Trees

Pruning Your Fruit Trees

If you have just entered the tree growing world, you have no doubt heard the term “pruning” tossed around by the more veteran growers. Well, I have something to admit. For several years, I did not even know what pruning was. I heard the term a lot, but I never felt comfortable asking someone what exactly it was. Even though it would have benefited my gardening and tree growing, I was too prideful to ask. I’ve found that pride is the reason for the failure of many great endeavors; if I had just asked someone what pruning was, I wouldn’t have undergone a few of the disasters that occurred during my first years of gardening.

Pruning is the removal of dead or unneeded branches to encourage the growth of flowers. Usually a tree will end up devoting energy to branches that don’t need it, while neglecting branches which are bearing more fruit. If you remove the branches that are taking all the nutrients, you will begin to see a flourish in the other ones. Pruning also keeps the tree in shape by keeping the branches even. This prevents it from becoming weighed down on one side. Having too many branches on one side could cause the tree to become permanently crooked.

Many gardeners don’t even think about pruning their trees until they start to bear fruit. This is a big mistake, and you should never neglect to care for a tree just because it hasn’t yet begun to produce. During the entire process of growth, you should prune the tree in a way that it is even and uniform. Then, when it does start to produce fruit, the results will be significantly greater. It is very easy to tell the difference between a tree that has been pruned regularly during its growth, and one that has been neglected. Generally the shape of the tree is much more natural looking if it has been pruned.

The first thing to look for when you start pruning is any branches which are dead or diseased. These are quite easy to recognize. Usually they don’t bear any fruit, and might be misshapen or discolored. Don’t hesitate at all in chopping these guys off, as they are nothing but detrimental to the health of your tree. Sometimes a branch can be dead or diseased without making it too obvious. If this is the case, simply wait until the tree is flowering and it will become obvious by not growing anything.

The second type of branch to look for is the branch that is too close in range to all the other ones. If it grows at such a length and angle that the end is right next to all the other branches, they might end up crowding each other out. Take off the smaller of the two branches to allow the larger one to have the breathing room that it needs. This same rule applies to the weight balance of your tree. Sometimes, for reasons we will never understand, a tree will grow several branches on one side and weigh itself into being lopsided.

So hopefully I have provided you with a basic knowledge of pruning. There are more situations and types of branches that require pruning, but what I’ve outlined is the very basic parts. These can alter depending on how old your tree is. For example, for the first 3 years of a tree’s growth it requires pruning that follows more “formative” guidelines. After the tree is well established, you will need to use “regulatory” pruning to keep it where you would like it to be. There are entire books written on how to prune trees depending on how old they are. There are far too many techniques for me to go over, so if you want to use these advanced techniques then you should go to your local library and check out a book.

If you can't eat it, don't plant it,

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Staking a Young Tree

Staking a Young Tree

When a tree is in the young stages, one of the most vital things you need to provide for it in addition to water and nutrients is support. If you don’t hold up the tree somehow, it might end up bending in a certain direction and growing extremely crooked for the rest of its life. So no matter what, you should always have some kind of support.

The most popular method of keeping young trees upright is to put long stakes into the ground on either side, and tie loops around the tree. Each loop should be fairly loose to allow for further expanding of the trunk. Lots of people just have a stake on one side of the tree, but this is not a good practice because it generally doesn’t allow for further growth of the tree.

You should only be staking your tree if you think that wind and other forces might be literally moving the ball of roots within the ground. Your staking should prevent all of this movement, because this is the most harmful thing that can happen to a young tree. It causes the roots to be in motion too much and not be able to properly get a hold on the soil so that the tree can develop normally.

Before you stake a tree, you should be completely sure that it needs it. If you constrict the movement and growth of a tree that doesn’t need to be tethered down, you could harm it beyond repair. For example, the staking mechanism you use could cause abrasion or “rashes” on the trunk. This will happen anyways, but why have it happen needlessly? Also, staking gives your yard an unnatural look and can present a hazard for people walking or running across the yard.

The staking process is actually rather simple. Just take 3 stakes and tie each one separately near the base of the trunk. If you use some sort of tether to prevent rope burn on your tree, that would be an even better solution. These can be purchased at any gardening shop, and are designed to be friendly to the bark of the tree. It is much better to stick with these instead of bare rope, to minimize the amount of friction the tree endures.

When you think your tree has been staked long enough to stand on its own, you should remove the stakes from the ground as soon as humanly possible. Every moment the tree is constricted it is losing some of its vitality. As soon as it seems like the wind is dying down around your area, look on the weather reports and see how much wind is forecasted. If the skies will be pretty clear for a while, you should at least temporarily take off the stakes.

To wrap it all up, you should never deny your tree a good staking. It is a completely necessary thing to do in certain situations. It is very crucial to understand when those occasions are, though. Staking a tree that doesn’t need it can be as damaging as not staking a tree that does need it. It might be beneficial for you to consult an expert, and get their opinion as to whether your tree should be staked, and for how long.

If you can't eat it, don't plant it,

Friday, February 26, 2010

Starting an Orchard

Starting an Orchard

If you have a large amount of land that you have not put to use, you may consider planting an orchard. If you’ve had previous experiences with planting and maintaining trees, that is an added reason why you would be perfect for maintaining an orchard. It might seem like an overwhelming thing to undertake, but it is actually fairly simple. All it takes is some commitment.

If you’ve never grown a tree on your property, you might not want to make the time and money investment of buying lots of trees. If you are inexperienced, you will want to start with just one or two trees so that you can get a feel for the growing process. Once you have seen one tree along all the way to adulthood successfully, you are probably experienced enough to handle multiple trees. You should never plant so many trees that you are going to be overwhelmed, though. Only plant what you can handle.

Generally if you are getting started on a large amount of trees, you will want them to all be the same type. If they all require the same amount of water and nutrients, you won’t have to spend as much time catering individually to the different types of tree. As an added benefit, you will become very familiar with the process of growing that specific tree. You won’t be overwhelmed by having many different types, but instead you will become a master of that specific type.

If you already have a tree growing on your property that you have maintained from its childhood, then you know that the soil is acceptable for that type of tree and ones similar to it. Since you’ve already been through the process of growing that type of tree before, you shouldn’t have any problem testing all of the soil to make sure it is similar to the segment you already planted on. Then it is just a matter of growing more trees and causing the process to be the same as it was before. Since you’ve already dealt with the same problems in the past, you probably have a good idea of how to deal with any pests that might come about during growth.

Generally in an orchard, the trees are planted in a row, then pruned to be in a two dimensional shape. This is known as either a fan or an espalier shape. There is one main branch in the center that is completely vertical, then multiple branches that go off to the side. If the side branches are horizontal it is known as an espalier. If they are sloped, it is known as a fan. Generally these 2 shapes are used in orchards because of how compact they are. By using them, you allow for many more trees to be in the certain amount of space. However, if land conservation is not an issue or you’re not looking to be efficient, you should probably stick with the traditional tree shape.

To aid in the watering of your trees, you should install either a sprinkler system or an irrigation system. The sprinklers require more maintenance, but if you dig an irrigation ditch then it is really easy to just run the faucet for a few minutes every day and reach all the trees. It’s just a matter of what you would prefer.

Once your tree collection starts to bear large amounts of fruit, you can consider starting a fruit stand or participating at the farmers market. Instead of letting the fruits go to waste or trying to eat them all (which can lead to some bad stomach aches), you can let the rest of the world enjoy the product of your intense labor. If you become a popular vendor, you might even make back a decent return on your investment. However, you can’t count on making very much money. Starting an orchard shouldn’t be a capitalistic investment. You should only start one if you have a passion for trees.

If you can't eat it, don't plant it,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What to Look for when Buying a Fruit Tree (part 1)

What to Look for when Buying a Fruit Tree (part 2)

The best variety of fruit tree to buy would be one that carries fruit and does well in your area, because a local fruit tree takes less work and grows the best. Although fruit trees bearing other, more exotic kinds of fruit may seem more exciting, they usually won't grow as well in your area. That’s not to say it’s impossible. You can definitely try to grow a more exotic tree, but it will take much more commitment and time.

Another factor involved in deciding on a type of tree is what kind of soil you have, because some trees do better in damp soil while others are better suited for drier soil. If it rains often in your area you would do well to plant a plum tree. But if you do not get very much rain you would do better to plant a pear tree or an apple tree. Before choosing which type of fruit tree you would like, consult your local nursery or gardening guru to find out which trees would do well in your area.

Other things that you should look for while looking for a fruit tree at the nursery are things like how sturdy it is, if all of the branches are evened out, how straight the tree stands, the condition of the roots that support the tree, the length of the stem, and the height of the fruit from the ground. Making a careful and deliberate decision can mean the difference between having the stunted fruit from your lopsided tree being eaten by animals all day long.

If you can't eat it, don't plant it,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What to Look for when Buying a Fruit Tree (part 1)

What to Look for when Buying a Fruit Tree (part 1)

Although the process of growing and caring for a tree is generally challenging and even difficult at times, sometimes one of the hardest parts is choosing which kind you want. You have to choose between the many
sizes, fruit, and other attributes. The different sizes include: dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard. Your choice can affect everything about your growing experience, including the amount of work you have to put in and
the amount of rewards (fruit) you will obtain.

Dwarf trees are ideal if you only have a limited amount of open space in your yard. They take up as little as only as eight-foot diameter plot of land. Although the dwarf fruit trees are smaller than the others, their fruit is just the same size and the shortness makes them easier to prune and harvest. Dwarf fruit trees aren’t known for living quite as long as larger fruit trees. They begin to bear fruit after three to five years, so if you are going to buy a dwarf fruit tree from a nursery you should always check and see how old it is.

Semi-dwarf trees are medium sized, and when they are full grown they take up a fifteen-foot diameter. Semi-dwarf fruit tree's height can range from as low as ten feet to as high as sixteen feet. To keep them from getting to large you should prune them at least once a year. Occasionally semi-dwarf fruit trees take a season off and produce little or no fruit, but mostly they produce hundreds of fruit every year. Many people enjoy having semi dwarf fruit trees because they produce more fruit than a dwarf tree, and they are generally easier to harvest and maintain than a standard fruit tree.

Standard sized fruit trees take up much more area the then any of the smaller tree varieties, and they are also harder to keep manageable and to harvest all of the fruit. If you do not prune them at least once a year
they can grow as large as thirty feet. If you are just looking for a good tree to provide you with plenty of delicious fruit from and to keep your yard shady, a standard sized tree would be the perfect tree for you.
Standard sized fruit trees take a very long time to reach their full height, but they usually begin to bear fruit after only three to five years.

If you can't eat it, don't plant it,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Layering Ebible Garden Landscaping

Layering Edible Garden Landscaping

Could your home do with a little more garden landscaping? Probably so, and that is a good thing. In fact you should be very excited about it because there is nothing more fun than edible landscaping, it will get your imagination working overtime and you will have a ball planting and rearranging your vegetable plants.

By layering your garden landscaping beds you will be able to add a whole other level of beauty to your landscaping design. Your yard is the first thing that people will see when they come to your house and giving a grand tour that includes a fabulous vegetable garden is always fun and exciting. You will be the talk of the neighborhood, and for all the right reasons this time, when you do some really good garden landscaping.

Layering your garden landscaping design is easy to do. You need to know what you are going to plant first however. The choices that you make as far as plants will affect just how your garden landscaping is laid out. For example you do not want to have the taller plants in front of the shorter ones. This is obvious but you should still make a rough sketch of where you want things laid out for your garden landscaping before you begin. This will help you to keep things as simple as possible. Your garden landscaping will go a lot faster this way and you will run into fewer problems as you go.

When layering you should have about three layers. Your back row should have the tallest plants and as the rows descend so should the heights of the plants. The trick of this kind of garden landscaping is that oftentimes the plants we buy are baby plants. So you will need to consider about how large the plants will grow to be. This is key to successful garden landscaping. If the front or middle row of your edible garden landscaping design is going to grow much higher than the last row, then you will have to do some rearranging.

The layering affect of your garden landscaping design will add depth and make your garden much more interesting to look at. This is what will make your edible landscaping a success