Chris' Monthly Garden Tips - Winter

Chris' Monthly Garden Tips - Winter

Winter is usually the best time to prune apple and pear trees but not stone fruit such as cherries and plums that are susceptible to silver leaf disease that can kill trees and can enter via pruning cuts. Pruning apples and pears is often made unnecessarily complicated in books. In general, the reasons for pruning are to reduce the size of the tree, let light and air into the canopy, remove diseased growth and to get the right balance between old and new growth.

It helps to use good tools. Fruit tree wood is rather hard, and a decent pruning saw makes light work of the task of pruning. We recommend the Darlac range of pruning tools as they combine professional quality with a value for money price. The Sabre pruning saw is made from Japanese steel and cuts on the pull stroke reducing the effort needed to saw through a branch. Remember that tools should be cleaned after use and secateurs given a sharpening. We stock a range of quality sharpeners that can quickly restore the cutting edge on your trusty secateurs.

It is very easy to over-prune a fruit tree, and this usually results in excessive growth at the expense of fruiting. It is seldom a good idea to take out more than twenty percent of its growth in a single season. If the tree has been neglected for many years, the pruning should be a gradual process to get it back into shape.

Start with removing dead and damaged growth and anything growing into the centre of the tree. The aim is to achieve an open centre. Strong upright shoots are seldom productive and are best removed. Apple canker is a disease that appears as areas of sunken bark often surrounded by swellings. Cankered growth should be removed as soon as possible and burned to stop infection.

Rather than use a ladder and risk an accident, a long reach pruning saw means that pruning can be safely carried out from the ground but please watch out for falling branches.

Plums and cherries should be pruned during the warmer months of late spring and summer taking out congested growth to allow the entry of light inside the canopy.

Large pruning cuts should be treated with Prune & Seal or Medo Pruning Compound to stop infection.