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Orchard Stewards Program: Pruning

It’s pruning season! Pruning can be daunting, but our Stewards learned quickly. As the Holistic Orchardist Michael Phillips says, “You need confidence. It comes from projecting your mind into the light space surrounding a branch. It comes from being the bud.” There are many theories, and this is just the start!

Pruning starts with architecture. There are about 4 different fruit tree architectures: open center/vase, central leader, modified central leader, and bush tree. A Steward should be able to envision the future of each branch and each tree. Michael Phillips quoted a Vermont farmer in saying that when you’re done pruning, you want to be able to “Take the family cow and fling her between the branches.”

A proper cut is an artform that the Stewards are learning to master this season. The cut should be clean. Most thinning cuts should be at the branch collar (where the branch meets the limb or trunk). When moving between trees, be sure to clean pruning blades with diluted bleach to avoid spreading diseases. In general, most city orchard stewards should avoid heading cuts.

To learn more about the pruning lingo, architecture, tips and tricks, and more, attend one of our two pruning workshops or our Academy!

Pruning workshops:
March 4
March 16

Academy:
2017 Academy

Further reading:
The Holistic Orchard, Michael Phillips
Pruning Made Easy, Lewis Hill

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