Hello everyone! I hope you are enjoying the first signs of spring around your house and even your garden. In the Pacific Northwest where I live, it’s still cold at night and often rainy during the day, but we have the happy circumstance of a lovely sunny day now and then, and it makes me want to get out in the garden in between all the memorizing I need to be doing for the summer play I’m cast in–A Midsummer Night’s Dream! I can’t wait, and I will be playing opposite my sweet hubby in several scenes, which we haven’t done in years, so it should be fun.
There are, however, some late winter or early spring chores that need to get done around the garden, and pruning the fruit-bearing trees, canes and bushes figure prominently on my gardening to-do list for this time of year. (For my new readers–I’m a Master Gardener and have been gardening on our current property for the last 13 years. We grow flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruit on our single-city lot.) I thought I’d put together a round-up of posts that I’ve written about how to prune apple and pear trees in an espaliered belgian fence configuration, as well as pruning grape vines, raspberry and blackberry canes, and other types of small-fruit maintenance tips to give your plants a great start for the season. I give tips for how I fertilize these plants and how we’ve created support structures for them, all so they produce wonderful fruit later this summer and fall.
People sometimes get a little scared when it comes to pruning, but really, I say go for it! I will give you some tips to avoid mishaps, but with a lot of these types of fruit, especially grapes, they are pretty forgiving if you don’t do it perfectly. And the more often you practice pruning, the more you will see how your plants respond to the pruning, and the better you get at it, so I say, jump in and give it a go! NOTE: Always be safe–please wear long-sleeves and gloves, eye and ear protection anytime you are pruning plants–all it takes is one little twig to break off in the wrong direction and you can end up with a very nasty scratch to your eye or skin–I know from personal experience, so don’t let it happen to you.
A tip to help you get better at pruning: Take a photo of your fruit plant before you begin pruning, and then after you are done pruning, and then one late in the summer when it’s about to produce fruit, and compare them–from this you’ll learn a great deal about how your pruning caused the plant to grow.
Have you ever wanted to try growing your own apples and pears, but thought that you couldn’t because you don’t have enough, or any, ground in which to plant? I’ve had good success with creating from scratch an espaliered Belgian fence created out of mini-dwarf apple, crabapple, and pear trees that I learned how to graft myself, fitting 8 fruit trees into a two-foot by fifteen-foot growing space! I have a video that talks about creating the Belgian fence, and I have this post that talks about how to prune your fruit trees so they stay in shape and produce fruit this fall:
Grafting and Espalier Creation Video:
For those with no ground, you might want to try growing mini-dwarf fruit trees in large containers. I wrote an article for our local Master Gardeners’ newsletter a few years ago that goes into detail on how to succeed at this, and what fruit varieties work well in containers:
Berries are easy to grow, and so delicious when picked fresh from your garden. Learn all my tips for pruning, fertilizing, and trellising cane fruits like raspberries and blackberries, as well as how to tidy up and fertilize your strawberries and other berries for optimal production this summer:
Is there anything more perfect than a grape-covered pergola in the summer as a lovely spot for a glass of iced tea or an outdoor meal? Learn about how we built our sturdy pergola using many recycled materials, and then how we grew a grapevine from a free cutting (yes, you read that correctly!) that now covers the pergola each year with glorious leaves, and beautiful bunches of table grapes in the late summer. I cover pruning grapes for the complete beginner in detail, with illustrations and photos:
Enjoy the rest of your day! If you have any questions about fruit pruning or growing fruit, please leave them in the comments section of this post, and I’ll do my best to answer them :)
Have you ever tried growing fruit? I’d love to hear about it down in the comments, so feel free to stop by and say hi!
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Till next time,
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