Prune, Prune, Prune: Backyard Orchard Culture

The summer pruning for my mini orchard was past due. I have two very good excuses: (1) I became a foster parent this summer, and (2) it’s terrifying to wander out into your backyard orchard and prune back all the lovely leaves that have grown over the summer. Still, the point of backyard orchard culture is to prune, prune, prune to maintain smaller trees, so needs must and all that.


I watched the summer pruning video again from Dave Wilson’s YouTube channel, and I tried to take his advice to heart that if you have to think about a cut, just make it. That advice, however, appears easier to give than it is to receive. I certainly thought very, very hard about each cut I did (and did not) make. I had to remind myself a few times that it is very difficult to kill a tree, so none of my cuts—no matter how drastic—were going to kill any of my 20 trees.

The trees on the whole look pretty good. A few of the cherries were worse for the wear due to the Japanese beetles we’d been dealing with all summer, but they look acceptable if a bit defoliated. My Kansas Sweet Cherry was completely ignored by the beetles, but it has been the slowest to grow of any of the trees. In fact, the fig tree that seemed the weakest and most suspicious upon receipt was so invigorated by life in
the garden that it decided to throw out mini baby figs that I regrettably had to remove this year. The tree needs to focus on roots and structure, not making figs. (Okay, who am I kidding, I left two baby figs on…) The figs on the whole were the largest surprise. I had no idea that they grew such large, lovely leaves.

Baby figs!

With my husband back from his summer travels, school about to start, and the first rush of a gazillion meetings about the foster kiddo behind us, I certainly hope that our fall garden will be a touch better tended than our summer one.


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