Week one is done! This week was all about pruning. On Tuesday, after a bit of a crash course in vine pruning, us newbies were paired up with more experienced students and went out to spur prune the pinot noir vines. It was great to be able to put into action what we had just been talking about in the classroom. The main points I took away were about balancing the vine, leaving a gap between spurs (hand-width apart) and leaving two buds that will hopefully turn into new canes.
We also had a quick look at the apple trees. It was more challenging to see where you would actually prune them because they aren’t as structured as the vines. I found I really had to look at it for a while to see the shape it should be, the layers of branches and where the trees should be opened up.
On Wednesday there was a field trip to Lars’ orchard. He has cherry and apricot trees planted. We helped prune the apricot trees. They are vase shaped, unlike apple trees that have a central leader. They need to be pruned so the sun can get into the middle of the tree. The branches go out and up from the stump.
Next we had a look at some cherry trees that have been trained to grow along wires. This system takes more time and money to set up in the initial stages but should mean more fruit is grown and it will be easier to pick and prune going forward.
On Thursday we finished the pruning at the Bannockburn campus. That meant more apple trees, then fixing up some of the young apricot trees that still had too much growth on and ending with the roses.
Two lessons from the week that stood out to me – one is that you can’t try to cut corners with pruning, especially with young trees. Two is that you need to look ahead, not just to next years shoots, but the following year as well.
Weather – there were a few frosty mornings but the sun came out in the afternoon. At Lars’ property on Wednesday it was quite windy but that is because of the location of the sight, high up on a slope. Best tip to deal with the wind was from Trevor – turn your back to it like a cow does! Rained overnight on Wednesday till early Thursday morning.
It will be really interesting to see the new growth start and follow what impact our pruning had over the coming year. Looking forward to next week – composting!