Pruning has always been rather a dark art to me. I’ve shied away from the basis that it seemed scary and technical. Y’know, something that the pros do, not someone like me, with a few fruit bushes on an allotment.
I understand the reason and theory, such as shaping, removing dead bits and maintaining health, etc, but the actual act of hacking away at a plant terrifies me. There seems like such a tiny margin for error, and my productive fruit bushes are just too precious to mess around with.
Maybe it is because my information-packed but ever so slightly daunting RHS Growing Fruit book has a subtle expert undertone. Words and phrases like ‘lateral’ and ‘leader’, and ‘outward’ and ‘inward’ facing buds confuse me, and make me want to run a mile.
Burying my Head in the Pruning Sand
Instead, I’ve done the typical male thing and buried my head in the sand. We’re good at that, us blokes. Ignore the thing that needs pressing attention, and get on with something we’re proficient or comfortable with.
Subsequently, I have a motley crew of odd-shaped fruit bushes that I’m now trying to transplant into my Patch from Scratch. I have never pruned them in the four years that they’ve occupied space in my allotment fruit patch. I’ve been too fearful of taking the plunge.
Transplanting, as I did with a couple of gooseberry bushes at the weekend, simply highlighted their irregular shape. Due to my disregard, they have grown as they wish and unfortunately they’re short and wide where I’d like them to be tall and slender.
Taking a Flyer at Pruning
So, I just kind of had a stab at pruning at the weekend. I threw caution to the wind and pruned by the seat of my pants. With gay abandon, I set about the bushes with no care for consequences. My only plan was to tidy the bush up as much as possible, starting with the dead branches, and then the ones that were crowding out others. I didn’t worry much for laterals and leaders, but simply dived in two-footed. That’s how we learn, right?
Well, maybe. Or maybe not, if my bushes don’t respond to my reckless pruning. ‘They’ve got two choices,’ as my mum would say.
Fortune favours the brave. And somehow, I don’t feel so scared anymore.
P.S. This is not a tip post. I do not recommend pruning in this stupid fashion. 🙂