Istiaia, Evia, Greece
Tue 14 Dec 2010 23 °C
In a place like Evia, one of Greece's many islands, it doesn't really matter what work you are doing. As long as you are outside, with the sun on your back, looking out over fields of fig and olive trees, the clear Aegean sea beyond them and the distant mountains even beyond that; you can't help but smile at life. Our latest work however, has got me feeling a bit like a bonsai artist - shaping trees, controlling their future shape and growth patterns.
There are many reasons for pruning fruit trees. Some of the benefits include;
- Removal of dead, diseased and damaged material.
- Allowing light to penetrate through thick leaf growth to ripen fruit (while leaving enough leaves for photosynthesis to occur).
- Opening up the branch framework to allow air circulation and prevent fungal infection.
-Pruning out colonies of pests.
-Shaping of trees.
-Control of vigour.
(Source: Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening)
We were pruning out in the field of young pomegranate. These trees were 3 years old and all only between 1 and 2 metres high. Our main aim was to create a desirable shape for the future tree, making it easier to harvest fruit. This meant removing any downward growing branches or branches that interfered with each other. Our other purpose was to thin the growth. A tree can only produce enough energy to grow and ripen a certain number of fruits - basically we were giving the tree a 'haircut'. We removed unnecessary branches and any growth from the crown of the tree, allowing sunlight to filter down to lower leaves.
We also took this chance to cut away any new shoots growing up so that the original tree wouldn't have to share any nutrients from its root system.
There is something to be said for the satisfaction of standing back and admiring your work. Well, the work of mother nature really, we're just making a few small requests.