Go To Homepage

Diary Articles For Oak Tree Farm


Wellington Field Allotments Hixon

More Allotment Articles

Gardening Tips
By Mrs FM


Unusual & Old
Fashioned Fruit


Herbs & Other
Edible Plants.

Environmental Issues And Going Green.

Books By
Alan J Hartley




Diary Article 13.

Some Necessary Pruning.

The other week I was asked to have a look at the Grape Vine that I ruthlessly pruned last year. It had obviously not suffered from its harsh treatment as it was again covered in far too many, shoots and far too many, bunches of tiny embryo grapes just starting to form. Fetching a ball of soft twine and secateurs from my car, I set to work. The whole plant was a tangled mass so I could see why no one else was brave enough to have a go at pruning it.

Most Vineyards that you see on the TV have their Grapes trained along only one or two wires, but I decided that I wanted to try and encourage 3, or 4 stems across the roof of the greenhouse. Separating the two surviving long shoots out first, I tidied those up and secured them to the greenhouse. The growing tips had died out on the other two branches that I had hoped to be able to use, so I found the next longest shoots that I could and separated them, viciously cutting out the rest of the lush growth. I tried to leave a fair number of short “Spurs,” that had small bunches on them so that some of the bunches of grapes could develop. When I cut the stems I went past the bunch to be saved and cut after the next bud to prevent “Die Back,” and prevent the bunches from shrivelling up.

After clearing up the mess I had made I was asked to move a few plants around in a cold frame to brighten up the display. There was no need for the Thymes that I moved to be in there, but they were very pretty and cheered up the other plants. I bought an odd one, that was left, to take home and put under my Gooseberry bush on my allotment. Some Thyme cuttings were rooting under some of the bushes there, but I thought that was such a lovely plant and different to the two types of Thyme that I already had that I would have it. Also, I moved some of the remaining Angelica plants that had been worthwhile taking to the centre after all. They had been free seedlings from the garden at home that had been potted up by one of the team members as they are called. The staff had been a bit reticent about their value at first, but they ended up selling quite a few one way or another. Next year I might try to get some seed of the red ones that are even more decorative.

This week I was asked if I would do some more pruning and have a look at the old apple tree that is in the lawn of the garden behind the house, or office block as it now is. It is supposed to be a very old variety, but is in a terrible state. Just from a quick glance you can see that it is not healthy as there is a lot of moss and lichens growing all over the branches which is not a good sign at all. There is, or was, a lot of dead wood that needed removing just to make the tree safe if nothing else. Most of the dead branches were small, but some were big enough to do some damage if they had come off in the wind and hit somebody. I armed myself with a long handled pruning saw and some wooden steps and attacked it. I must admit that I didn’t cut some of the branches very tidily as I left too long a stump at the cut, but at least the bulk of the dead wood was removed making the tree much safer. Someone else could tidy up the cuts later if need be. The cut branches covered the lawn and were so dead and rotten that they were breaking up into little bits as some of them almost exploded when they fell and hit the ground. Grabbing an old wheelbarrow, I filled it with the bits of wood and took it straight round to what was left of my mornings bonfire. The fire had nearly burnt itself out, but there was still a lot of heat left in the embers and it soon flared up again and started roaring when the dry wood caught light.

The centre are obviously trying to preserve the old apple tree as it is, but I am still thinking about trying to graft a healthy young shoot onto a cheap apple tree from the shops. From a TV program that I recently saw it seems a reasonable thing for an amateur to try. Grafting is a skilled job and the professional nurseryman made it look too easy, but the TV presenter had a go and succeeded with her own graft so it can’t be so difficult. If I am successful with a graft I will have a brand new tree of the old apple variety that is healthy and full of life. Then, if the old tree is fetched down, the variety of apple wont have been lost as the new grafted one can be planted in the grounds for future generations to find.

Click Here For Information