Sunday, March 9, 2014

Anxious to Get Some Work Done Outside?

"You can't get too much winter in the winter." 
Robert Frost

Well, I know you're ready to get out there and do something in your yard.

How do you feel like going outside in below freezing temperatures and trimming acres of apple trees?

Some friends of ours that own AppleDale Orchards in Mexico, New York, have been busy getting ready for spring. They have been trimming their apple trees. I appreciate the fact that I was able to share these pictures that were posted on their Facebook Page. Thank you, they are truly beautiful and I just loved them.

For those of you on Facebook, here is a link to their Facebook Page: Facebook- AppleDale Orchards

If you have fruit trees or bushes this is the time to get out there and trim them. While we personally don't have any apple trees, my husband does have blueberry bushes.

We used to have a mess of wild blackberry bushes growing in a spot in our yard, but we cleaned them out and it's now a shade garden. We do have a lot of wild blackberry bushes growing across the road from us, but it's such a tangled mess (not our property) and blackberry bushes have very thorny branches. If you care to pick wild blackberries- dress for it: long pants, long-sleeved shirt, gloves, and boots. You'll probably still come out of that thicket looking like you got in a cat fight with some feral cats.

Pruning fruit trees. When you prune your fruit trees in the winter you can see which branches need to be thinned out. And because the trees haven't started growing yet, there will be less nourishment or sap lost from the ends being trimmed. You will first want to remove any diseased, dead, or deformed branches. And if you have branches which grow straight up trim those, too. Those are called water spouts. And my friends from AppleDale also said that there are many advantages to pruning your apple trees: they don't get too big, it allows more sunlight into the trees for the apples, it gets rid of the old wood that doesn't produce as well, and allows room for new growth.

In the photo above I wasn't sure if they were on their knees or standing. What a surprise that the snow is so deep there that they were standing and walking around in probably 3'-4' of snow.

So you must be the apple of my eye!

This photo is so beautiful with the snowstorm in the orchard.

You can trim your fruit trees in late winter/spring. It is not recommended to trim your fruit trees in the fall. When the branches are cut back it stimulates new growth, and you don't want new growth in the fall because the new growth will most likely be killed off by frost and cold temperatures.

All the hard work in winter will pay off with beautiful apples in the fall.
Thanks again to AppleDale Orchards for allowing me to use your photos!

Here is a link with more information on pruning apple trees: Prune-Apple-Trees

Blueberries. My father-in-law's hobby was having a small nursery called "Link's Nursery" in Niagara Falls, New York. Some of my "older friends" from our hometown might remember the nursery on Pine Avenue/Niagara Falls Boulevard. He was very knowledgeable of growing fruits, vegetables, shrubs, and flowers. He first told us that blueberries will perform best for you if they are planted with at least one other variety of blueberries. They produce more and bigger fruit in this environment. Planting it with another variety allows for cross pollination. This planting of different varieties that ripen at various times can lengthen your season for harvesting blueberries. Another important point is to make sure that you have the correct variety for your hardiness zone.  

For blueberries to perform well they prefer soil that is high in organic matter, high acid, and well-drained, but moist. The pH is recommended between 4-5. Blueberries do best if mulched with pine needles, woodchips, or sawdust. They will perform well for you if they get 1"-2" of rain or water per week. After the berries have formed on your bushes and start to ripen you probably will have to cover them up with netting if you want to have some to harvest. Otherwise the birds might get in there and steal them on you. Blueberries are a fairly pest-free bush.  After planting your bushes they will not have to be pruned for the first four years. If your blueberry bushes have not been pruned annually they may be bearing less fruit, and overgrown. Prune the bushes in late winter.

Pruning Blueberry Bushes. If you have the high bush variety, remove branches that are over 6 years old with large cuts. Then remove any branches that are drooping to the ground or crowding out the center. Then remove low branches where the fruit will touch the ground, and also remove any spindly twigs. Here is a video on pruning blueberries: Pruning Blueberries

Additional information on growing blueberries: Learn and grow blueberries

Hardiness Zone Map: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone

Pruning Grapes.  Grape vines are very forgiving so you don't have to worry about making mistakes. And if pruned correctly, you should have removed about 90% of the vines. The are best pruned in February or March, or early April. But if pruned too early a hard frost in late winter can damage the canes and buds. So in our area of Central/Northern New York probably April is best for pruning grape vines. Here is a good link for more information on pruning grape vines:  Grape Pruning Basics

Waiting for Spring. . . soon to come . . .  branches and buds!

Thank you for reading my blog. 
Feel free to leave a comment.


  1. Great photos and info as usual. It is that time to start planning our garden chores and I thank you for the reminder. We hope to get to camp mid April to clean up and hope the deer have not started feasting until we spray for the spring. Your snowman is great!!!!

    1. Thank you. There's always so much to do in the spring and sometimes I never know where to start after the snow melts. That's one of the reasons I like to clean up as much as I can in the fall. Looking forward to seeing you next month. Hope the snow melts by then!

  2. I agree with Lulu. I too enjoyed the images and the info. We got hammered with snow yesterday and more for today. It seems like Spring really is taking a break this year.

    1. We are all anxious for spring. In addition to all the snow we've gotten this winter the temperatures have been extremely low for this time of year. I think it will be awhile before the ice melts on the Great Lakes. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Sue what great info and pictures. I wait until the snow is cleared and prune the fruit bushes. I just can't do it in the snow.

    1. Thanks, Donna. I agree, we just have too much snow to get out there and prune our fruit trees and bushes.