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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Shoveling snow off of fruit trees



The very thing that generally gives me a guilt-free pass from gardening -- snow -- delivered an usual chore this week: shoveling fruit tree branches.

Snow is nothing new here, but it came so fast and so wet and heavy (and so much of it!) that trees all over town strained and split with the extra weight. I don't want my little peach tree to suffer the same fate, which is why I tromped through knee-high banks to scrape snow off its branches. The tree is in my front yard, a steep slope of three terraces. In the best of weather it's like playing mountain goat to garden there. I'm sure I gave my neighbors quite the show as I climbed the hill and hoped to not lose my footing.

Ah, that's better.

Pruning tactics to maximize fruit production and sunlight to each branch also create a basin for snow. Hold your hand out, palm up, to see how. Hold your arm vertically from the elbow, with the hand bent back, as if you were a waiter holding a tray. Now curve your fingers. Your forearm is the trunk and your curled fingers the branches. When snow makes a branch bend at a notch, the risk for breakage is high.

My tree is against a retaining wall, where the upper level provides an easy reach to all the branches. (It's why we planted it there, for easier harvest.) If you attempt to remove snow from a bigger tree, be careful. Use a shovel to PUSH snow away from you, rather than pull it toward you. Obviously you don't want to get a snow shower, but you also don't want to dislodge an already weakened branch and have it fall on you. Consider that bent branches may whip upward when snow is removed; another reason to keep your distance and use a long-handled tool. Watch out for power lines.

I don't anticipate having to shovel fruit tree branches with every snowstorm, just when the weight of snow makes the boughs bow. (See what I did there?) 

Swing on tree heavy-laden with snow.

Oops! The patio furniture got left out.

What's your most unusual off-season gardening chore?


daisy g said...

Oh, that peach looks SO good!
Our off-season is summer, so I guess the most unusual chore is that we aren't outside much! Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday!

David said...

Jennifer, my most unusual off season chore this year was mowing the grass in December. Seriously, the weather was so warm here that the final cut wasn't until December. Usually the final cut is the end of October or maybe the first week of November. Tomorrow .... 52 degrees with a follow up of 60 and 60 the next two days. Global warming folks are gloating of these temperatures. The geese haven't even left for the journey to the south yet. All of nature is confused by the weather. We had three and a half days of solid rain which brought our total rain fall up to 4 inches when the average is on 1 inch for December. Old Ma nature is certainly unpredictable.

Have a great off seasonal unusual chore day.