There are some years where it stays so cold and snowy all the way up to June that I can’t bring myself to bundle up and trudge outside to prune the apple trees. This year, however, we’ve had such a warm spell that it was a treat to spend several hours outside without my head completely wrapped and barely able to move for all of the layers I’ve packed around myself.
At first, I always find I need to master a small amount of an emotion that is somewhere between fear and hesitation. It’s a possibly debilitating uncertainty that requires a little rallying to overcome – otherwise I’ll simply stand there and stare at the trees, but never actually cut anything. So I go back to the basics of cutting 1. the dead wood 2. the crossing branches and by the time I get to 3. the shaping, I’m fine.
I’m hoping that this year, I’ll actually be able to do more shaping. In past years, as I bring these huge (for apple trees), ancient trees to the point where the apples are actually edible rather than just cider apples, I’ve only been able to cut the dead wood and crossing branches before so much of the tree is removed that I don’t dare trim any more. It was a pleasant surprise to find less dead wood than usual and to begin to focus on more shaping than anything else.
We’ll need to do some spring and summer pruning too, to reduce the number of blossoms so that more of the energy goes into fewer fruits. The cider (frozen the previous fall) from these trees is a treat served ice cold on the boat all summer long, so cross your fingers they produce well this year.
I’ve got happy fruits (or fruit trees)!