a round tuit pruning of the fruit trees
I’ve just finished pruning the fruit trees. I’d hoped to get the pruning out the way before the end of July; it’s one of those winter tasks that has me saying, “I’ll do it as soon as I get a round tuit.”
I can give you as many good reasons for not getting round to doing something as the next man or woman, in this instance: seemingly never-ending rain; a revamp of the back porch cum sunroom; a protracted bout of flu; family get togethers. Important jobs are often left till the last minute; if only good reasons let me off the hook. They don’t!
I’m your perennial a round tuit guy. I should offer an alternative to your ‘hire a hubby’ or ‘hire a helper’ services: ‘hire a round tuiter’. Offering a pruning service, I could have the sign writer emblazon a slogan on my van: I’ll move when the buds move.
Stone fruit buds are moving and there’ll be blossom before too long, so I pruned them first, before the pip fruit with their later bud burst. Last winter I didn’t get all the pruning done and the most rampant fruit tree on the property missed out; my punishment this year was to have it take me two long afternoons, the same time I’d needed to prune eight stone fruit trees!
I’m talking about the Cox’s Orange Pippin. A tree that stirs up memories. I first set eyes on it when visiting my brother Paul and family on their Herbert, North Otago, seventy acre farmlet. It wasn’t long after that that they sold up (after eighteen months on the place) and moved to the North Island.
A gift from my Dad, the Cox’s Orange Pippin was fresh out of the plant nursery and still in its black plastic planter bag. Funny what you remember – must be close to thirty years ago now. Of more interest to me than the tag telling me it was from the Waimea nursery up Nelson way, was its organic status. Before or since, I don’t think I’ve seen, and certainly not bought, an organically grown fruit tree. We’re into organics, but the nurseries we’ve been to don’t have organic on the tags.
Anyway, to my surprise – that Paul hadn’t planted it or Dad reclaimed it for himself – on Mum and Dad’s very first visit to our recently acquired place, Dad plonked, still in its planter bag, the healthy-looking Pippin in my arms. Acted like he’d bought it specially for me. He was still sore at Paul and family deserting “the farm”, so I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d already made the tree’s acquaintance.
The Cox’s Orange Pippin isn’t on any size reducing rootstock, which is uncommon these days, but it suits a place like ours with plenty of room for big orchard trees. Comparing it with some of our fruit trees that are on semi-dwarfing rootstock, the Cox’s has more vigour and puts on as much new growth thirty years on as it ever did. A pain when it comes to pruning, but a boon when you get a bumper crop of early season apples every year without fail.
But the scraggly tree took so much time to tame this time round, that although what I said at the start of this piece was true – that I had finished the pruning – I omitted to add that the Granny Smith and Braeburn apple trees are the new additions to my a round tuit list.
Attending to them abandoned because of a pressing need to get in next winter’s firewood supply. This time last year I had intended to fell some of our gums so that I would have a mix of our poplar and gum for burning. You guessed it – I didn’t get a round tuit. There were times when I felt like I was the woodstove’s slave, with only brief respite from feeding fast burning poplar into its hungry mouth.
To be getting a round tuit or not to be getting a round tuit, either way, those gums have gotta come down this time. You just wait and see, I’m gonna get around to it!
That’s all on modern-day homesteading at Little Owl Gull till next Monday. Thanks for your company. Bye for now.