Love for the neglected Crabapple Trees: A lesson in pruning

By Andrea Hood, an Alaska Master Gardener
My small yard is edged by two crabapple trees planted by the amazing couple that built this house so long ago. Every year, in spite of being ignored by the new residents and abused by snow hurled from the plows and occasional windstorms, they have produced small, tangy, beautiful fruit. This year, while they are sleeping, they will get some TLC.

The idea is a bit overwhelming. They are now overgrown beautiful monsters. This is going to be a multi-year treatment plan. Sustainable Gardening: The Alaska Master Gardener Manual contains an excellent chapter on pruning. This and other helpful publications are available at: www.uaf.edu/ces

I know it sounds strange to think of this in the middle of the abundant season, but waiting until winter last year was a mistake. I couldn’t remember the mental notes I made while harvesting the previous fall.

This fall, I will keep careful notes on paper of which branches are productive and the size and number of fruit. In addition, I will mark with tape the parts on which I plan to work. This dormant season, I will eliminate any low, tangled branches and choose (as advised by the manual) no more than two large limbs. Then of course, I will observe another growing season and make new plans next summer. So this summer, throw a glance up at your trees and jot down a note or two and dream of spiced crabapples for many seasons to come.

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