Learning to prune our fruit trees has been interesting. While it is pretty intimidating at first, I now enjoy it. I imagine it is a bit like painting or maybe sculpting. Every cut matters but you're not quite sure how much it matters. Though unlike sculpting, you have to wait a year to get any feedback about whether your choice of cut was a good one. Add to that the fact that I'm still not sure which tree is which, and there was a lot of intimidation.
I checked out five pruning books from the library. After lots of reading, then lots of observation, then more reading, then starting slow, then more reading, I became more confident. Here's my most recent bold move–weighing three overly vertical branches down to become more horizontal:
I wish I had nice before/after photos, but I don't.
- The Pruning Book by Lee Reich – Great intro to pruning basics
- Pruning & Training by Christopher Brickell; David Joyce –Very detailed instructions for specific species and forms
- The Smart Gardener's Guide to Growing Fruits by Dr. Bob Gough – A detailed intro to pruning (and more) that is straightforward and instills confidence
- For most trees, prune in late winter/early spring when dormant
- Thinning cuts thin
- Heading cuts promote vigorous regrowth
- Wide crouch angles make strong branches
- ~6–10 inches between branch joints
- Angle heading cuts away from bud
- Make heading cuts close but not too close to bud
- Bud(s) below heading cut turn into branches
- Most novices don't prune enough