April 20, 2016

Our property has two fruit trees on it, an apple and a cherry. (Those two fruits, so Michigan!) David enjoys all things homesteading and would love to have (at least) a full garden one day. For now, he is extremely diligent about carefully tending our two humble fruit trees. The apple tree in our front yard looks very sad, but it still produced a quite good yield last year. By continuing to care for it (and ripping out the godzilla bushes that were surrounding it), we hope it can grow into a large, strong tree.

One of the most important parts of caring for a fruit tree is pruning it.

HOW TO PRUNE A FRUIT TREE from Rachel Schultz

Using a bow saw and hand pruner, these are the steps we use.

  1. Cut off any dead or broken branches from the trunk.
  2. Trim back branches that are growing too close to a building or walkway.
  3. Cut water sprouts and suckers back to their base on the branch or ground. These are small branches that grow straight up and do not yield good fruit.
  4. Cut back any downward drooping branches at the trunk or part of tree where they began to grow downward.
  5. Remove any additional branches or sprouts that are crowding other parts of the tree.

David says, “It may seem like you are chopping off a lot, but do not worry. It will thank you later. A tree only has so much nutrition to use so eliminating inefficient branches sends more energy to the good ones. That means better fruit!”

If you love homesteading too, one of our very favorite books on the topic is Carrie Madigan’s The Backyard Homestead.

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  • Robin

    What do you know about when to prune? I’m confused this year, we’re taking care of my in-laws’ house and they have 7 peach, pear, and plum trees. Does it have to be in the spring? I kept waiting till the last freeze passed, but they already blossomed and I’m afraid I missed my window.

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