Such A Plum Job

As the last six weeks have been rather cold and wet I’ve only attended to the most essential of outside chores and have deferred everything else until the weather improves.

One task that couldn’t be left however was pruning the fruit trees as this needed to be completed whilst they are relatively dormant and before any new spring growth emerges.

Plum Tree No 1

July is the month to do this so last Saturday I set about giving our two plum trees a haircut. In some ways it was more akin to limb amputations as I wanted to open them up to let in more light and airflow and hopefully improve their overall form.

All the other fruit trees have been pruned so its only the plum trees that require a little surgery.

Main tools used were:

Here I’m removing unwanted light growth on the mid and lower parts of the tree.

Removing the light growth

Sawing off some of the secondary branches to thin and improve the shape of the tree.

Using Pruning Saw

Using Heavy Duty Shears

Pruning shears work well as they remove branches quickly and cleanly.These cost me $120 some years ago however they’ve proved their worth many times over.

New Cut

Removal of this scaffold branch leaves the tree with three which should make accessing the plums a whole lot easier. When making cuts like this its important to use sharp tools that will give a neat clean cut. When taking out a larger branch make a cut on the underside otherwise bark can be torn from the main trunk as the branch falls to the ground.

To avoid damage any large branches that need to be removed should be cut off in sections as this will lessen the risk of damage.

Applying Pruning Paste

Pruning paste seals the wound, prevent dampness and disease. There seems to be some debate concerning this as some experts advise against using pastes and such like. I’ve always used them and feel comfortable doing so.

Cut Sealed With Pruning Paste

Only apply pruning paste when the surface is dry.

Pruned Plum Trees

All done, they look rather stark and ugly but next spring they will come away better than ever. Nearer spring as always I will spread a healthy dose of citrus fertiliser around their drip line to ensure another bumper crop.

A tree’s drip line is defined by it’s outer most leaves, the area within this is known as the drip zone.

Some basic guidelines for pruning.

  • Use quality tools that are sharp and clean.
  • Remove diseased, dead and weak growth and always prune back to healthy wood.
  • Remove all prunings and compost if soft and healthy but burn if dead or diseased.
  • Ensure that cuts are clean and edges are tidy.
  • Protect with pruning paste.

Favourite Quotes:
If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down ? Jack Handly

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