The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm


March 27th, 2014 · No Comments · Posted in farming


Everything is running late this year because of the unusually harsh winter. We’re finally getting around to pruning the trees in our fruit orchard with a helpful assist from our friend Gini, the closest thing we know to an arborist. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have a clue what to do.

Our farm property came with an orchard containing more that 100 young, semi-dwarf fruit trees–apples, mostly, but also peaches, pears and some plums. They haven’t had any maintenance for at least a couple of years, so they’ve been running wild. Some of that growth needs to be cut back. We especially want to knock the tops off some of them so they don’t grow too tall. Also, lower branches need to be removed so we can get closer with the mower. And we want to give them a pleasing shape that allows sunlight to penetrate the entire tree.

An old New England orchardist is quoted as saying: “You know you done a good job pruning when you can toss the family cow through the tree.”

The general rule is, don’t cut more than a third of the tree.

An orchard is the kind of thing you must commit to, or you might as well tear out all the trees. We’ve made the commitment. I called an expert at the local extension service to discuss next steps. Our hope is to treat our orchard holistically, which means feeding it with tons and tons of wood chips so the trees will grow up healthy and strong enough to resist disease.

That will kill two birds: clearing wood from the hedgerows and perimeter and feeding it to the orchard.

You can add chipping wood to our list of farm chores.

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