Sunday, January 13, 2008


With heavy work schedule, necessary travel, stress, exposures to multiple ill people, it's no surprise that i finally came down with a nasty bug. Five days & I still feel very crummy. I did take about an hour outside yesterday and today, pruning backyard roses and all of the miniature cherry trees.

There is disagreement on when to prune roses or how much. I would have waited, but needed at least a little sunshine. All varieties were pruned to about 4 to 8 large canes, each about 12 to 24 inches tall depending on the vigor of the individual shrubs. Tamara is the most vigorous in the back yard and has the most growth remaining after pruning as well. Some of the newer information suggests just shearing back to the desired height, stating that this results in more flowers. I dont think this is for organic roses, however, so effects of this method on infection control, without pesticide use, are not known. The older information often recommends severe pruning. My approach is somewhere in between, with more growth removed to reduce black spot (removal of sources of infection, removal of branches that clutter and shade the center of the shrub, to allow sunlight to enter), but longer than some of the older recommendations to allow for more flowers.

The cherries are pruned to open "bowl" pattern where possible, with new growth generally pruned back to 2 to 4 buds, the last one outward facing.

I also pruned the "north pole" apple to shorten it a little (could not reach the top apples last year), shorten branches back to spurs, and maintain the columnar appearance.

I cut some apple branches for use as scions later this winter. These went into a plastic bag in the fridge. They came from a tree that overhangs my yard severely, but isnt my tree. The apples are tart and crisp, but the tree bears poorly due to poor maintenance. I will use these scions to rework a miniature Golden Delicious that has not borne edible fruit in 4 years and I doubt ever will without the reworking.

Several prunings were stuck into a shady border to see if they can be grown as cuttings by this "benign neglect" method: some small forsythia sticks, ginkgo prunings, korean lilac prunings, and one apple pruning. If they don't take, that's OK - I dont know what I'll do with them if the DO take. The location is shady, has a tall fence o n the north side, and generally stays fairly moist. I think that last year's attempt at ginkgo cuttings ultimately failed when they were blessed with too much sun.

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