Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fruit Trees and Fringe Benefits

I finally got around to pruning our fruit trees (now that I don't have to wade through 3 feet of snow to get to them).

Have I mentioned that I love fruit trees? Not even considering the fruits, I think they are such beautiful four season plants. I even love pruning them this time of year!

Pruning gives me the obvious benefits: more and better fruit as well as prettier and healthier trees. It also sparks the garden fever for the year!

It also gives me some fringe benefits: I get blossoms from the prunings (if you mash the cut end with a hammer and stick them in water, the trimmings give you beautiful flowers in a week or so). This is also nice to do now with forsythia branches, if you have them. Here they've been inside for three days and the buds are starting to swell.

I also use the prunings for my birds (since they are untreated fruit trees, I know they aren't poisonous). The finches get branches to use as perches. The branches naturally vary in width, so the birds don't get arthritis in their feet (a common problem if you have only one size perch in the cage).

The parakeets are another story entirely! They are natural "wood" birds. They make their nests in holes which they hollow out in trees, so the chance to bite and play with fresh wood is a great treat! They love to strip all the bark off the branches, so I save all the trimmings, store them outside and bring them in a few branches at a time.

Now I just need to attack the winter damaged shrubbery - it's less fun pruning broken branches from a beloved shrub that may or may not make it.

On the plus side, while I was pruning, I noticed that my giant pussy willow was going crazy! I bought this plant for $2 on a whim, and I have never regretted it!

I grow Honeycrisp pears, Starkrimson and Sungold cherries, asian and Stanley plums, Sargent crabapples, White Pearl currents, and figs. I guess the currants should be under the bush fruit, but I was noticing I ought to prune it. Do you grow any fruit? What do you grow and where (generally) do you live?

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