Posts Tagged ‘freecycle’

Pruning the Apple Tree

Pruning Apple Tree

On the local Freecycle cafe list a post from Leslie appeared offering his services to not just prune people’s apple trees but show the, teach them and generally discuss the ideas behind pruning and growing the trees. It is not just all about the fruit but instead there is no reason why a properly looked after fruit tree should not last for years, even hundreds of years. For those lucky trees just imagine what they have seen in their long life, the different people and methods used to look after them and the countless people getting their own enjoyment from them.

I was most interested and took him up on his offer. We have the small apple tree in the front of unknown origin and while we have had apples on it, these last years it has been more whooley aphids than apples and really a sad looking idea of a tree. I was more than interested to listen and learn from Leslie what he had to say and see just what he did and more importantly understand why.

It was soon quick to see that this apple tree was in a bad way. The cats had not helped with their years of clawing at the bark which had stripped a lot of it away near the base which really did not go well for the rest of it with a possible inlet for disease and certainly a big restriction in the trunk. The tree then was a bit of a mess, crossed over branches, branches competing with each other, and most important in the complete jumble of branches there was no air flow. He explained that these trees need air flow, part of the reason why we have suffered so badly from whooley aphids in the past was most likely due to lack of air flow.

I watched and listened and took note as he thinned out the branches, reshaping the tree removing the middle leaders and getting it into something that might have a bit more chance. It was too near the fence which was a disadvantage, so the hope would be to encourage it over the years to get over the top of the fence. He showed and made me understand the importance of cutting away the bark on a big cut in order to prevent water and disease getting in under the bark at the cut but instead to encourage over time for the bark to grow back over the top, forming a type of waterproof lip.

As the photos below show, the end result was a lot of wood removed and a much leaner, much cleaner looking tree ready for growth and a new year. Possibly still a bit unbalanced and so the recommendation of weighting down one of the branches with string for a year in order to help spread it out a bit would be good.

In all an interesting morning with an interesting bloke who certainly knows these trees and can sympathise with them. It seems everyone has an apple or pear tree in their garden, but not a lot of people know just how to handle them.
Apple Tree Prune Pruning Apple Tree

After
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Pruning the Apple Tree

Pruning Apple Tree

On the local Freecycle cafe list a post from Leslie appeared offering his services to not just prune people’s apple trees but show the, teach them and generally discuss the ideas behind pruning and growing the trees.  It is not just all about the fruit but instead there is no reason why a properly looked after fruit tree should not last for years, even hundreds of years.  For those lucky trees just imagine what they have seen in their long life, the different people and methods used to look after them and the countless people getting their own enjoyment from them.

I was most interested and took him up on his offer.  We have the small apple tree in the front of unknown origin and while we have had apples on it, these last years it has been more whooley aphids than apples and really a sad looking idea of a tree.   I was more than interested to listen and learn from Leslie what he had to say and see just what he did and more importantly understand why.

It was soon quick to see that this apple tree was in a bad way.  The cats had not helped with their years of clawing at the bark which had stripped a lot of it away near the base which really did not go well for the rest of it with a possible inlet for disease and certainly a big restriction in the trunk.  The tree then was a bit of a mess, crossed over branches, branches competing with each other, and most important in the complete jumble of branches there was no air flow.  He explained that these trees need air flow, part of the reason why we have suffered so badly from whooley aphids in the past was most likely due to lack of air flow.

I watched and listened and took note as he thinned out the branches, reshaping the tree removing the middle leaders and getting it into something that might have a bit more chance.   It was too near the fence which was a disadvantage, so the hope would be to encourage it over the years to get over the top of the fence.   He showed and made me understand the importance of cutting away the bark on a big cut in order to prevent water and disease getting in under the bark at the cut but instead to encourage over time for the bark to grow back over the top, forming a type of waterproof lip.

As the photos below show, the end result was a lot of wood removed and a much leaner, much cleaner looking tree ready for growth and a new year.  Possibly still a bit unbalanced and so the recommendation of weighting down one of the branches with string for a year in order to help spread it out a bit would be good.

In all an interesting morning with an interesting bloke who certainly knows these trees and can sympathise with them.  It seems everyone has an apple or pear tree in their garden, but not a lot of people know just how to handle them.
Apple Tree Prune Pruning Apple Tree

After

Courgettes from Freecycle and Killing Slugs

I saw courgette plants offered on our local Freecycle and so asked to have a couple and here they are.   Courgettes are great plants, easy to grow and not much needed in order to look after them.   Their flowers, which turn into the courgette) look great which has meant in previous years when we have planted them in with flowers, they have not looked out of place.   The last time we had courgette plants (which I beleive may have come off Freecycle too!) we managed to harvest quite a number off each one and kept us going for a number of weeks.   We hope then for the same success this year.

They are now planted in a small strip of soil where we had the giant sunflowers last year.  This year none of our giant sunflower seed left over from last year managed to germinate, which is a bit sad.  Although I have noticed a couple of small sunflower seedlings in the soil coming up from where birds must had dropped seed last year and it has survived to this year, so a great little bit of self re-seeding going on there.

So both planted in, watered, and one or two slug pellets sprinkled down to stop the slugs and snails.   Now, I feel a bit bad about all this slug pellet business that goes on in my garden and should I drop my head in shame I do wonder.   Certainly anyone using such chemical is looked at slightly differently by some.  Those who sprinkle the bright blue pellets on their garden try to do it without the neighbours noticing.   While doing it, I feel a bit guilty as it cannot be good for anyone (least of all the slugs!).  The pest that is slugs and snails comes as number one enemy it seems (closely followed by the cat) and I remember the number of times at the old allotment where I days planting would turn into nothing overnight as the slugs and snails chomped their way through.

Last year I tried sprinking a thich layer of grit around plants which seemed to work to a degree but it seemed that once the first slug or snail had tried to cross and failed, others followed their slimy tracks which the slime seemed to serve as a bridge for others to follow over.  A bit like a group of slugs sacrificing a slug friend they didn’t like to be the one who’s slime would let the others cross.   So it didn’t really work unless you reapplied each day.  A good favorite I remember my grandparents using a lot was crushed up egg shells.  They must had eaten a lot of eggs as it took ages for me to collect enough crushed up shell to make a barrier around a plant, and even then they still managed to get through.   Another method was to make a barrier using cut up bits of plastic bottle which seemed a good way to re-use rubbish, but again they managed to get through and now I had the problem of lots of pits of plastic bottle which eventualy got mixed up with the soil.

So chemical warfare it is for the time being, but I have pondered many years to deploy the nemotodes!   It must be the most organic and natural way to fight these things, to let loose a whole army of this tiny things (300,000 per square meter it seems) and you are sorted, it says on the packet.   This treatment does not seem too expensive either, and more and more people I know are using them so it surely must soon be my turn too.