As winter approaches, Gareth and his team at Edwards Garden Design & Maintenance start to schedule in the seasonal task of fruit tree winter pruning. Whether standard trees widely spaced in a traditional orchard or espaliers and cordons formally trained on the walls of an old kitchen garden.
Summer for fruit, winter for growth. A helpful sound-bite for your annual pruning routine. On apples, fruit is borne most prolifically on 2-3 year old wood, with fruiting side branches (spurs) developing to bear the weight of the crop (unless you have a tip-bearer, but that’s another story). Older wood becomes fruitless but structural, supporting the good arrangement of flowering wood; the youngest wood is enthusiastic but bears little fruit. The winter prune is as important in balancing out the structure of the branching system. It is important not prune too hard though, as this will just encourage a flush of fruitless new growth.
The focus of our orchard and tree management isn’t always solely on an abundance of quality fruit. Traditional orchards are fantastic places for wildlife and are often a refuge within an intensively farmed wider landscape. We balance good fruit management with an element of ‘wildness’ that encourages a rich diversity of wildlife. Traditional orchards are an important Priority Habitat and there’s a lot of great info on the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species website.