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Up in the Apple Trees

I finally got to my apple trees this week. I was sidetracked by dealing with our taxes, so they aren't quite done yet... but I know that I will finish pruning them soon!

Woman in branches of apple tree pruning tree

Apple trees can be pruned any time of year, so there is no such thing as missing the window of opportunity. Over the past several years, I have learned that I like to get to this job before the flower buds grow big, but that is just so that I don't knock off any buds when I get clumsy when moving the ladder around. Honestly, this is kind of ridiculous because it is necessary to thin the apples in July. It is truly okay to break off a few buds. Most likely this saves me a few minutes of thinning, anyways lol. So, much better to chance destroying a few future apples than to not prune at all. Fear begone!

Years ago, twenty-nine years ago to be exact, I spent a summer in a very large fruit orchard in a desert canyon above Palm Springs. The orchard had been neglected for many years. The only care the fruit trees received regularly was irrigation piped in from a cold mountain stream. I arrived in this remote orchard from Vancouver, along with three other friends and an acquaintance who set up this revitalization experience. Saws and pruners in hand, we set ourselves to work the first day. I had no idea how to prune a fruit tree. Neither did anyone else. I hung back while a couple others just went for it, trying to do the best they could, telling themselves they must be doing something right, laughing at how inept they were. This was in the days before a smart phone in every hand at every moment, providing any tutorial you could ever dream of. I didn't cut a single branch. I was too afraid I would do it all wrong.

Fast forward to my home in Point Roberts with many years and many experiences in between then and now. What I lacked then, I have now: confidence. When we inherited these lovely apple trees I became their steward. These apple trees were to be loved and nurtured. It was quite obvious that these trees hadn't been pruned for years. Totally okay. This happens. But I wanted to be the someone who would give the trees shape and form and the potential for abundance. Of course, I came to this with no experience. I had no idea what I was doing. I watched a couple of videos, read what I could find, and then I climbed into those trees, pruners in hand. My husband assisted me with a very dull saw. I can't believe I had the nerve to direct someone else.

I went for it! Progress not perfect was the attitude that pushed me through my doubts and led me to make quick cutting decisions- both good and bad. Both wrong and right. More good than bad and more right than wrong. Every year I pull out the ladder and I take another stab at pruning. Every year I understand the process more, the trees become more beautiful and healthy and they produce more sweet fruit. I think that I finally know what I am doing. If you, too, are nervous about grabbing your own pruners and saw, I suggest you prune away, anyways! This goes for every job in the garden. Really, we don't need to wait until we know what we are doing. We don't have to start out perfect. It is guaranteed that we will plant something in the wrong spot and at the wrong time. Water too much or too little. Kill the seedlings we have been nurturing for three months. Watch the squirrels running off with the brussells sprouts and burying them two beds over. This is all okay. As disappointing as these experiences are, we still learn, we become better at problem solving, we grow a thicker skin. We become more confident. Those are the best transferrable skills I can dream of!

Once my apple trees are pruned, and before any of the flower buds open, I will spray the trees with a dormant oil. These help prevent finding worms in the apples. My garden is all organic, so I make up my own spray every year. If you would like the super easy recipe, you can find it here.

In addition to caring for my fruit trees, I have been starting more seeds and doing more potting up, including dahlia tubers which I will transplant into the garden once the weather warms up. I have transplanted more cool flowers into the garden. Most exciting, my husband built me a new table upon which I will put together my flower arrangements this season. It is gorgeous and I can't wait to use it.

There is so much to do this time of year. I am looking forward to getting the taxes finished so that I can throw myself into it all.

Wishing you a beautiful week,


Upcoming Events:

Saturday March 19th:Your Local small Market, 11-2 at the Community Center

Sunday March 20th: my first plant sale of the year in the Garden Stand

Saturday April 2nd and Sunday April 3rd: dahlia tubers will be for sale in the Garden Stand


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