My two are positioned near a fence made of larch-lap fencing, against which I have Raspberries growing. This location is the best I have, since it faces South-East and gets a fair bit of sun.
|Apple at Left, Pear at Right|
A Minarette is supposed to have lots of very short branches radiating from the main trunk, and no really big ones at all. I have to be honest and say that my trees have produced fewer shoots low down on their trunks than I had expected, and a lot more growth up top. Last year the pear put on lots of new growth and looked healthy throughout. It went on to produce a total of 11 fruits. Not a lot, you may say, but OMG they were nice! The apple tree on the other hand did very badly indeed. It suffered from Bitter Pit, which is an ailment associated with being unable to absorb enough calcium during dry conditions. Adding more calcium doesn't help, by the way, you just need to add more water. That tree came within an inch of its life last year: I VERY nearly dug it up, but I decided to give it one more year to redeem itself, and we have made a pact between us: I will keep it well-watered if it promises to give me at least SOME edible fruit!
Last Tuesday I had a day off work, so I did my Winter pruning. The idea is to keep the side-shoots ("Fruiting Spurs") short and compact - approximately 6 - 8 inches in total. In my humble opinion this cluster of spurs on the apple tree looks about right (maybe even a tad too long?)
Using my secateurs and long-handled loppers, I cut back any straggly spurs to just above a bud, like this:
I thought maybe a silhouette view would give a decent impression of the end result. Yes, viewed from here, some of the spurs at the top left do seem too long still... Anyway, what the hell? Just look at the colour of that sky! And it's only February.
OK trees, now this is what we're aiming for - or better - right?
|"Conference" pear - 2011|
P.S. You remember I wrote about sowing Asparagus seeds the other day? From my "all male" variety Gijnlim. Well, today I have seen that variety described in a magazine as "male dominant". Maybe the producers have been forced to accept that their variety is NOT all-male after all. I'm even more hopeful now that I may be able to get some of my self-saved Asparagus seeds to germinate.
Good work on the pruning. I personally get very intimidated that I'll kill my plants.ReplyDelete
Hope your apple tree does better this year. I just got my orange seeds sprouted. I hope mine get mature enough to produce fruits next year.
Funny that you should post about apple trees today - whilst I was out in the garden today, mooching around with ones morning cup of tea - I decided that next year I must get an apple tree. You have now made me think that actually, maybe it's not too late to get one this year!!ReplyDelete
Hi Mark, I've been thinking lately I need to trim my pot grown apple tree (as I've never pruned it) so found your article interesting. Have you cut the top of the main trunk? I was wondering whether to cut mine as its getting quite tall. Suppose I need to do a bit more research. Your apple tree in 2010 looked great; fingers crossed for 2012. P.S. Really enjoyed the snow pictures earlier in the week. We didn't get snow in NI.ReplyDelete
Kelli; yes I have cut the main trunks (the Leaders) each year, to stop the trees going too tall and straggly.ReplyDelete
Did you grow your plum like this too? I've heard plums are hard to shape except for their natural shape. I'm hoping it isn't too bad as I planted one that needs to be kept short and thin.ReplyDelete
How interesting. I have never heard of pruning fruit trees this way.ReplyDelete
I was thinking of heading to the garden centre today...not sure for what exactly, other than a fix and see what they have that takes my fancy.ReplyDelete
But now I think I may be heading home with a fruit tree! :D
How interesting. I was thinking of espaliering an apple along my fence but maybe this method would work well for me too. Now I'm confused. Did you consider espaliering a tree along your fence?ReplyDelete
Liz; Espaliering would not be the right technique for me, since the fence is already populated with raspberries. I chose the Minarettes because space was at a premium.ReplyDelete
I prune our apple trees and have no idea whether I am doing them correctly or not. I just go by instinct - I'd love a lesson from an expert.ReplyDelete
One of our local schools emailed me to ask if I knew anyone who could help them prune their fruit - I daren't prune anyone else's just in case I'm doing things completely wrong!
What a lovely blog. Oh I wish for my own veg patch, but alas, garden size and lifestyle make it a bit tricky. Am now a happy follower! Anthony.ReplyDelete
Hi Anthony, and welcome. It's always nice when a new Follower takes the time to introduce themself. I hope you will find enough on my blog to keep you amused. I cover quite a few topics these days, though it's mostly gardening and gastronomy.ReplyDelete
Fingers crossed that both trees go on to produce lots of fruit this year. I've got a cherry tree in a half barrel and I got a great crop last year, I'm hoping for the same again this year. I've been pondering buying an apple tree and had a look at a local nursery a couple of weeks ago. I decided that I would take the plunge and then the snow came, so I'm going to go pick one up soon. I'm going to grow that in a container too.ReplyDelete
Well, no way I could the pruning at this time. We are loaded with snow.ReplyDelete
Very interesting. I never considered "minaretting" my semi-dwarf apple trees. Now they've gotten too large and I'd like to cut them back. They are about fifteen years old now and largely flushed out with hardly pruned growth. Do you think that if I try to cut them back now to a sort of minaret style they'd survive?ReplyDelete
Howard; my expertise in respect of fruit trees is extremely limited! However, I reckon that since apple trees are pretty robust things, your plan might well work. If it were me, I'd try just one first and see what happens. If you got a successful result you could then do the others.ReplyDelete
Interesting, I've not come across that method of growing fruit trees - hope your apple responds to your pact and rewards you with lovely fruit this year.ReplyDelete
The cut in the picture just below "I cut back any straggly spurs to just above a bud, like this" looks a bit too horizontal - I seem to recall pruning advice somewhere saying to avoid this as it can be more likely to lead to disease (something to do with water pooling on it maybe?). Or maybe it's not horizontal and just the angle of the picture, in which case, move along, nothing to see here!
Also: nice blog - just come across it and it's an enjoyable read.
Mark, Great little blog on minarettes - these trees are fun to grow and will not shade your garden.Winter pruning will encourage large spurs but avoid prunning in freezing conditions. Have you tried Duo Minarettes with two varieties on one tree? Good fun and gets the neighbours looking.ReplyDelete
Any Help, Brochure or Advice,just call, Roger Muir, Ken Muir Ltd..