spring pruning an urban orchard


Lets try a first “real” post… I think this will develop as we go.

Two falls ago, a group of us on the team, friends and neighbors planted a somewhat experimental urban orchard in a reclaimed lot in the Kensington neighborhood. I guess lots things tend to be of an experimental nature in the world of urban agriculture. The Philadelphia Orchard Project helped us planted two semi-dwarf apple tress and two semi-dwarf pear trees… apparently it takes 4 trees to be considered an orchard, so we are official. There are also some other plants, vines and bushes that we are trying out: blueberries, raspberries, elderberries, strawberries, and a june berry tree. The site was also recently adopted into the mission of the urban farm team.

A lot of philosophy of the planting is permaculture influenced, using mainly perennials which are low maintenance, high yield and are sought to be established over the long term. In other words, not much production has happened yet. There is also an understory of edible/medicinal perennials planted around the fruit trees, which have done a pretty good job of out-competing the weeds- pretty exciting! There seems to be tons of info about permaculture these days and I’m trying to learn and apply little bits as I go with this project. Maybe well try to post bits and pieces of it as we go… so much to explore.

This past Saturday however, we pruned. I’m new to both the world of pruning (and blogging), but here are some quick simple things I learned that I remember right now:

– Branches should not be overlapping one another, as the top leaves will block the sun from the leaves underneath.
– For young fruit tress and berry bushes, its not a bad idea to just pinch off flowers/young fruit when on plant to direct energy into growth and not fruit production. It will be better in the long term.
– One simple thing you can do all year round is to cut off dead stems and parts of the plant… you can know if they’re dead if they don’t have a little green ring on the inside of the branch when you cut them. You don’t want plants directing and wasting energy into dead branches.
– You really only want to prune to direct the tree in early spring or late fall, cause it will stress out the plant if not. You should probably find some more reading about this if you want to prune before it gets much colder. This is probably not enough info.

Here are some pictures, anyway. Try clicking on them to make them bigger.



One Response to “spring pruning an urban orchard”

  1. joshuagrace Says:

    what kind of apples? dwarf apples?

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