Winter Tree Pruning Tips – by Mike McGroarty

Now is the time to prune many of the trees in your yard. They are dormant now and don’t mind being pruned at all.

1. Start on the inside of the tree. Remove any dead wood or any branches that are growing toward the center of the tree.

2. Remove any branches that are crossing another branch or rubbing together. The inside of the tree needs to be open and airy.

3. Move to the outside of the tree. Stand back and look at the tree and imagine how you would like the tree to look. Draw an imaginary line around the tree to the exact shape of how you want the tree to look. Then start removing any branches that are growing outside of that line.

4. The same rules apply for the outside of the tree. Open the tree up a little and remove any branches that are too close to another branch or are rubbing or crossing another branch.

6. When removing branches near the trunk of the tree always make your cuts as close to flush with the trunk as possible and do not leave a stub sticking out.

7. Wounds larger than a 50¢ piece can be painted over with a tree wound dressing, but in most cases it’s not necessary, and some professionals feel that wound dressings slow the healing process.

8. That’s it! Your tree will love you for it.

Have a great week!
-Mike McGroarty

(more personal stuff about Mike and Pam)
https://www.freeplants.com/stuff.htm

Planting Walnut Trees From Seed

Walnut seeds won’t germinate immediately when planted because they
are in a dormant state, and you must break their dormancy before the
seed can germinate.  Both scarification and stratification are
required to break a walnut seed’s dormant state, for germination to
occur.

The black walnut’s dormancy is caused by the thick, hard seed coat.
Breaking or weakening the seed coat is referred to as scarification,
and is the first step necessary to break the seed’s dormancy.  A
metal file or coarse sandpaper can be used, but is difficult and
time consuming, unless you have a power sander.

Treatment with boiling water also works.  Place seeds in water of
170 to 210 degrees F.  Make sure it’s not boiling!   After the water
cools, continue to soak seeds for 12 to 24 hours. The process
is slow, because you need to use 10-20 times the volume of hot water
as seed.

Whatever scarification method you use, you must be careful not to
damage the embryo inside. Once scarified, seeds will not store well
and should be planted as soon as possible after treatment.

If scarification is done naturally after planting the seed coat may
be broken by microbial action, exposure to alternate freezing and
thawing, or fire. Depending on nature to scarify your seeds may
require leaving them in the ground longer than one year.

The second step in breaking the black walnut seed’s dormancy is
stratification. This requires being exposed to cool temperatures
and moist conditions for several months. Winter weather in the
Northern USA provides the necessary conditions to break dormancy
naturally.

You can also break the seed’s dormancy by stratification in a
refrigerator. Using a coffee can, plastic jar, cottage cheese
container, or a plastic bag, place the seed in a moist 50:50 mixture
of sand and peat-moss. Punch holes in the lid of the container to
provide air.

Let’s take the process from the start: Collect your walnuts
immediately after they fall to the ground – before the squirrels get
them. Remove the husks, then place the nuts in water. Nuts that
float are not viable and should be discarded. The viable nuts will
sink to the bottom.

Scarify your nuts, and plant 1 to 2″ deep in the fall or stratify
the nuts in a refrigerator at 34 to 41°F for 90 to 120 days and
plant in the spring.  Use the natural soil, or Grow-Boxes that are
open to the soil beneath the box, because walnuts produce a long
taproot.

Prepare the soil with Pre-Plant and Weekly Feed, then after the
seedlings emerge feed 3 times each year.  Walnut seedlings grow
fast, and it’s recommended they be transplanted into the orchard
within 2 years after germination, unless you have tree-planting
equipment.

Jim Kennard

Planting Peach Trees From Pits – Possible & Productive?

Q.  Can a pit of a peach be succesfully planted into a pot and grow into a tree, or should I just order a peach tree from a nursery?
 
A.  Producing a peach tree from a pit planted in a pot is plenty possible (Pretty imPressive huh?).  However, there are reasons you may not want to take the time and effort to do so. 
 
Most peaches we buy and eat today are from hybrid plants.  This means that the tree you get from a planted seed will not produce the same fruit that you had the pleasure of eating, but will be different, and very likely inferior.  A hybrid tree is grown by grafting a branch from the mother tree onto rootstock from another variety.  Therefore, unless you are sure the peach is an heirloom (not hybrid), or you are willing to have something much different than the peach you ate, you should not bother to plant your peach pit.

Orchard Care

Q. Do you have information about orchard care? I think we do pretty well with the pruning (read lots of books) but is there a best way to fertilize the trees? I’d like to let the grass grow under the trees and just keep it mowed to keep the weeds down unless that’s a bad idea.

We have a fairly high water table, (about 6 feet down we hit water in the summer months) so I’m not sure how often to water, either. Any advice?

A. Shallow disking to eliminate weeds saves all nutrients for your trees.  If you keep the grass, etc. that’s growing between the trees in your orchard mowed properly, it is not a big problem that way.  Do remember, however, that any growing materials under or around your trees can harbor pests and diseases.

There are two reasons for pruning fruit trees: 1) to increase light to the center (and all parts) of the tree, and 2) to shape the tree to your desires.  “The best time to prune is when you have a sharp knife.” (Dr. M)

Watering should be done once every 7 to 10 days.  However, once your trees are well established, if you have a permanent water table only 6 feet down, you may not have to water often.  Never allow your trees to show signs of water stress, such as wilting of the leaves.  Unless you have a serious problem with drainage, it is better to water too often than not often enough.

You should feed your fruit trees twice each year: 1) in the early spring when the sap is flowing, and 2) in June/July, when the tree is producing leaf and fruit buds for next year.

REPEATING THE SEPARATE POST ON TREES:  For established small trees, loosen the soil at the surface and apply 8 ounces (227 grams) Pre-Plant mix at the end of the dormant season.  Larger trees should receive Pre-Plant once each year, in amounts equal to the Weekly Feed applications which follow. 

Two weeks later, apply Weekly feed as follows:  For a 1″ to 2″ (2 1/2-5 cm) diameter trunk – 8 ounces (227 grams).  A 2″ to 4″ (5-10 cm) diameter trunk gets 1# (454 grams).  And a 4″ to 8″ (10-20 cm) diameter trunk should receive 2+# (1 kg).  After 90-120 days – when next year’s buds begin to form, repeat the above applications.  Large trees of 12″ to 16″ (40-80 cm) diameter, would get 2# (1 kg) in each of 4 applications

Transplanting and caring for trees

Q.  How do I care for trees?  I need to transplant some small bare-root ones, and I want to properly feed the other trees in my yard.
A.   If you are transplanting small trees, you need to do the following:  Dig a hole 8-10″ (20-25 cm) wide and deep.  Make a Pre-Plant mix with 5# (2 kg) lime with 1 ounce (28 grams) of borax.  Mix 6 ounces (170 grams) Pre-Plant mix with the soil going in the hole.  Plant the tree.  Wait 3 weeks, until the roots are settled and well established in the soil, then apply 1 to 2 ounces (28-56 grams) Weekly Feed to the soil around the tree, keeping at least 3″ (8 cm) away from the trunk.  Apply Weekly Feed again in 90 days, and again in 90 days, watering thoroughly each time.
For established small trees, loosen the soil at the surface and apply 8 ounces (227 grams) Pre-Plant mix at the end of the dormant season.  Larger trees should receive Pre-Plant once each year, in amounts equal to the Weekly Feed applications which follow. 
Two weeks later, apply Weekly feed as follows:  For a 1″ to 2″ (2 1/2-5 cm) diameter trunk – 8 ounces (227 grams).  A 2″ to 4″ (5-10 cm) diameter trunk gets 1# (454 grams).  And a 4″ to 8″ (10-20 cm) diameter trunk should receive 2+# (1 kg).  After 90-120 days – when next year’s buds begin to form, repeat the above applications.  Large trees of 12″ to 16″ (40-80 cm) diameter, would get 2# (1 kg) in 4 applications.