Move over Lee Reich. Reich is one of my go to resources for gardening, growing and weeding. He also used to be my “go to” guy for pruning tips and tricks. Although I still love Reich’s book, I have a new, best friend when it comes to pruning.
Her name is Ann Ralph; her book is Grow A Little Fruit Tree.
For the first time since I started reading about and trying to understand what to prune, when and how, I completely understand pruning and I know the answers to the what, the when and the how!
It is so simple that I am amazed! And Ann Ralph’s approach ensures that your dwarf trees will not be 25 feet high and still growing with fruit totally out of reach.
Here’s the first bit of advice I was surprised by. When you buy a new fruit tree, cut off its little head!
Ralph calls this, “…the toughest cut you will ever make.” Although the reasons she shares in her book are logical and the outcome desirable, the author notes that many people just can’t bring themselves to do it and guess what, their dwarf stock quickly exceeds all predictions for height and you are stuck with a fruit tree you can’t manage or harvest.
Now for the second bit of advice. I live in the United States. Ralph’s “rule?” Prune in June. Just before Summer Solstice. Yes, even if you trees have fruit on them, prune. This prune is for height, not necessarily for shape.
Like a whole lot of people, I was told to prune when the tree was dormant – January or February, before it set fruit. And so I did. That’s why all of my trees grew 10 to 15 feet every spring! Winter pruning should be for shape; pruning a tree back in winter unleashes all its stored energy into growth in the spring and you become the proud owner of a monster tree!
I’m not going to give away all of Ralph’s amazing, practical and straightforward advice. If you have fruit trees, buy the book. I got the paperback and the Kindle book and have devoured every word, twice.
An amazing, easy to read and easy to implement book on pruning is gold to any gardener and this book is all of these things and more.