Sunday, May 8, 2016

Meandering around the place

In the spring it's really beautiful here.  The area was originally pasture that is going through natural succession.   When the pond was built topsoil was scraped to build the levee, but the soil improves a bit every year.  I moved here in 2008.  There were no cattails in the pond then, now they are steadily expanding their range.   I hope the cattails completely cover the upper end of the pond, which is shallow.  The cattails will filter and clean the water that enters the pond.

Cattails are the preferred habitat of one of my favorite birds, the red-winged blackbird.  It's not only vividly colored with it's red-orange wing patch, it has a striking call that evokes the marsh.  It is also one of the boldest birds I've seen.   Yesterday I saw one chase off a blue jay, a much larger bird.  A mature male is perched in this young sycamore tree.   He will wait for any younger males that dare intrude in his cattail patch and chase them off.  The juvenile blackbirds don't have the brilliant colors of the adults.

The apple trees had their first good bloom this year.  I pruned them lightly this spring.  Most of the flower buds, which are larger than the vegetative buds, were on the branch tips.  Some were on the larger spurs which grow on older wood.  I'm still trying to understand how to prune apple trees.  About half of the branches were cut back from their tips.

One wrong assumption that I had made was that a flower bud terminates the growth of the branch.  It does not, the branch will continue growing past the flowers, meaning the fruits will no longer be at the tips as the tips move past them.  It makes sense, because nearly all the branches had flower buds at their tips before pruning, and how would the branches get bigger if the fruits terminated their growth?

Trees are classified as spur bearers or tip bearers, although most are a combination of both.  The Fuji and Golden Delicious appear to bear predominantly from buds at the tips.  This is a spur, probably two years old, with fruit and a lone flower:

I don't know if there are too many young apples for the trees to support.  If there are too many the apples will be smallish, but that is an acceptable outcome.  There may be some fruit drop as they mature.  I'm not going to attempt to thin them.  For me it's a learning process. 

1 comment:

Mark Willis said...

Pruning fruit trees is a lot more difficult than many people think! I have recently acquired a new apple tree called "Winter Banana", which is definitely a tip-bearer.

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