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IN THE GARDEN: Time to prune fruit trees

Removing 40 percent of your fruit tree annually stimulates new growth each spring. Be sure to prune the proper parts.

Heard from my friendly FedEx driver recently.

“Passed by and you were on your mower instead of the tractor,” he said. “Why?”

Great question, Cory. We’ve seen bluebonnet sproutlings everywhere, meaning it’s that time of year when we suggest y’all raise the deck of your mower so the blades spin ABOVE your sprouts. Mow OVER your bluebonnets to remove dead or competing invasives so your wildflowers will flourish. The mower cuts right over the tops of the sprouts. All the conditions and variables are in place to have a bountiful wildflower spring!

TIME TO PRUNE FRUIT TREES

The main idea behind pruning peach trees is to remove the old, gray-colored, slow-growing shoots, which are non-fruit-bearing. We want to keep the 1-year-old, 18- to 24-inch, red-colored, bearing shoots intact. Removing 40 percent of the tree annually stimulates new growth each spring.

The second pruning objective is to lower the fruiting zone to a height that is comfortable for harvesting. The third objective is to open the center of the tree to increase air circulation, reduce disease pressure, and allow sunlight to accelerate fruit color and sweetness.

Tools needed for the job are loppers, hand saws, hand clippers, a rake for the pruned limbs, good gloves, head and face protection, ladder, something to sharpen your tools, and lots of drinking water. It helps if you have someone there to encourage you. Be sure to pace yourself.

First, remove all dead limbs, rootstock suckers, and waterspouts in the lower 3 feet. Next, remove all shoots above the 7-foot mark other than the red-colored, 18- to 24-inch fruiting shoots. Then, remove all shoots that grow toward the middle of the tree. Picture an upside-down umbrella: That is what you want the finished product to look like. Finally, remove all the old, gray wood in the 3- to 7-foot fruit production zone.

Things to remember: Always wear protective clothing, eyewear, gloves, and a hat that covers your ears. Sometimes, those limbs can really slap you hard. Pruning paint is not necessary. If this sounds too confusing, go by your favorite nursery and let them give you a demonstration and other helpful hints. Or, shoot us a text 512-769-3179 or email luedeckephotography@gmail.com.

Peach production is the purpose of all this work. Each peach tree can produce two bushels. That converts to 100 pounds of peaches. So, when you’re hot, tired, and sweaty, just think of all those delicious peaches that you are going to enjoy this summer.

Now, take it easy and steady — be good to yourself and your fruit trees.

TO DO:

  1. February is one of the best months for planting trees, shrubs, ground cover, perennials, and vines.
  2. Veggies to plant: artichokes, asparagus, onions, greens, lettuce, spinach, radish, carrots, beets, bok choy, collards, kales, peas, turnips, leeks, broccoli, shallot bulbs, cabbage, potatoes, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, celery, English peas, Swiss chard.
  3. Tasty herbs to plant at this time: calendula, chervil, cilantro, chives, dill, parsley, feverfew, oregano, sorrel, thyme, garlic, chives. If/when the weather drops below freezing, protect your chives and cilantro.
  4. February fruit plants to choose from: apples, peaches, pecans, pears, pomegranates, persimmons, figs, almonds, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries.
  5. Did you sharpen your pruning tools last month? Prune dormant perennials, rosemary, oregano, and roses.
  6. Pretties to plant: alyssum, calendulas, cannas, daylilies, daisies, gladiolas, poppies, larkspur, pansies, petunias, pinks, primrose, snapdragons.
  7. Do NOT fertilize where your bluebonnets grow.

Make sure to keep your avian watering holes fresh and full.

Till next time. Keep your souls and soles in your garden! Remember the True Master Gardener: Jesus said, “I am the vine; my Father is the Gardener.” John 15:1

Have questions or comments? Contact Martelle Luedecke at 512-769-3179 or luedeckephotography@gmail.com or Bill Luedecke at 512-577-1463 or bill@texasland.net.

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