We’ve done a massive pruning of the front garden and neighbours have been reminded that there is actually a house behind those plants!
We planted the deciduous trees to block the Western afternoon Sun in Summer and they did their job beautifully, giving us the coolest garden in the neighborhood (in more ways than one).
Over the years, though, we let them grow way too tall and it was nearly impossible to harvest from them. We even had to resort to netting individual fruit to protect them from the birds.
Now that the world is in a bit more of a mess than usual, we thought that we would like a bigger and more reliable harvest from our fruit trees and maybe let a bit more light in to those plants that live at ground level. They’d been struggling a bit and we weren’t getting good crops from them either. With more light, we can grow healthier greens and a few more varieties of plants for ground covers. The bulk of the leafy veggies and Tomatoes will still be grown in the aquaponics out back.
So, today, I got stuck into bringing the trees down to a more manageable 2 – 3 metres. Well, mostly; working overhead isn’t good for my bad neck and I’m going to be sore for the next couple of days but the bulk of the work has been done. There’s still a little more trimming but that can be done after the rain. At least the trees will have a day to heal up a bit before that hits later in the week.
I would have liked to have pruned earlier but the weather was against me. It’s early enough to get some good new growth before the heat hits. These trees fruit on second year wood, so I’ve left some of that on there so that we get something this year. After this year, there should lots of new growth much lower down on the trees which means more harvestable fruit in 2022. The 2021/22 season will be a bit light but as we estimate that we lost about 6 kg of fruit from every deciduous tree because of height and general inaccessibility (by us, the birds did fine), we will more than make that up in 2022/23. After 2022 I’ll have a much better idea of how the trees respond and will be able to keep harvests up for the long term.
I really had to knock the Tagasaste tree down by a lot too. It grew to nearly 6 metres tall within two seasons and though it shaded the chook house nicely, it was too top heavy and branches swayed dangerously close to our phone line. It is a bit of a shame because it was in full flower and attracting heaps of Bees, insects and birds, which is exactly why we got it (that and as chook fodder, but the girls won’t touch it). I’ve left the main trunk and a few flowering, lower branches. We’ll keep under control this from now on.
Sometimes, as the old song goes, ‘you’ve got to be cruel to be kind’. Now there’s several days of mulching ahead!
You may wonder about cooling the house? We worked out that a lot of the tallest growth was really in excess to what we needed. Most of the shade came from lower growth and from vines. As we’re on the ball with the vines this year, we should be able to cycle them so that we get more production a better harvest as well as earlier, thicker growth.
Let’s hope we’re right!