Monday, January 2, 2017

Apples and Oranges (and Grapes)

Happy new year, everyone! Brandon and I started the year with entire day of working in the yard while the sky threatened rain all day. Brandon's parents got us (among many other treasures) a ladder for Christmas, and it might just be my favorite present yet.

Our apple tree had been neglected for years and was very overgrown, crowded, baring only small and flavorless fruits. When I started trying to rejuvenate it I quickly ran into a hurdle. Some vine-like thing had been growing up the fence behind the tree and, seeking more sunlight, grew onto the top of the apple tree and the neighboring mystery tree. Before the ladder, there was no way I could get all of these vines off the tree.

So we got out the ladder and I started climbing and yanking these vines out. Damn, it felt so satisfying to get these dead crawlers off our precious apple tree. How dare they steal its sunlight!

Upon closer examination, these vine-y sunlight stealers appeared to be grape vines. The previous owners must have planted them thinking the vines would grow along the back fence, but when the tree grew bushier and shaded the grapes, they sought sunlight (or revenge) and climbed up the tree! Lesson for everyone: don't plant grapes where they don't get sun!!!

Once the vines were off we started pruning the tree. The general goal is to get the tree to resemble a goblet shape. Brandon sawed off low-hanging and downward-growing branches to encourage more upward growth. I clipped any suckers and small branches that seemed crowded. From what I've been reading, it's very important that each branch on the tree gets ample sunlight and air circulation. Branches that cross over each other or point straight down or straight up are generally undesirable.

I know, I broke the golden rule by taking a vertical video. Sorry!

After hours of sawing and clipping, we ended up with a much happier looking apple tree, bundles of apple wood for our future fire pit, and a full bin of yard waste. Once we fill the bin, we generally call it a day.

AND as a happy surprise, the clementine bush was still fruiting after my first harvest! So I collected more fruit and I am now preparing to make another batch of clementine marmalade. Hopefully this time the jam will actually set and firm up. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

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