Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Garden chores: Tree pruning

Finally, finally! Mother Nature decided to get with the program and give us a glorious spring weekend! Gorgeous sunny days with some real warmth to the sun, although the air itself is still cool so the shady spots are chilly. Nevertheless, there are continuing signs of spring popping up in the garden.

These pure white crocus made an appearance late last week to join the miniature iris and the daffodils are getting ready to join the party.  Another day or so and they should be out.

In 2008, I planted this Bing cherry tree in memory of my mother who had a fondness for cherries and who had passed away the year before.  It's in dire need of another trim, so that is my main task for this weekend. The biggest part of the job is to remove that large branch that is slanting away to the left of the main trunk and knowing I would be cutting it off flush with the trunk and leaving a rather large wound, I thought ahead and bought some grafting wax to seal it.

I have never used grafting wax before so I wasn't sure what to expect, but the package states that you can soften it by warming it in your hands and then apply it like putty or you can melt it into a liquid and paint it on with a brush.  That seemed like the more practical and efficient method to me for this situation, so that's what I chose to do.

The wax is very sticky, like toffee, and I totally guessed that I would need about half the stick, so using an old paring knife, I chopped half the stick up into cubes, placed them in an old mixing bowl and microwaved them on high in 30 second intervals until they were fully melted. This took 2 1/2 minutes in total.

I made a small cut upwards on the underside, so that when I cut down through from the top, the branch would come off cleanly and not tear off a strip of bark. I really should have cut the branch off first before I melted the wax, because by the time I had the branch down, the wax had hardened back up. It's nothing that a quick re-zapping in the microwave couldn't fix and it was easy enough to paint the liquid wax onto the wound, sealing it up and protecting the tree from infection while keeping the sap flowing.

That done, I used a pair of telescoping pruners to trim down the top branches, keeping the tree from becoming too tall and making it easier for picking fruit.

Now comes the fun of clipping all the pruned branches into 2 foot lengths and tying them up into bundles to be put out at the curb for collection on garbage day.

Meanwhile, my marigolds, zinnias and tomatoes are all doing wonderfully. They are now past the cotyledon stage and have their first true leaves.

The tomatoes should be ready to up-plant into 3" pots soon and if the weather keeps up like this, I will be able to bring all the seedlings outside for short periods to take advantage of the sunlight and start hardening them up.

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