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Am I too late to attack this pear tree?

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What up dudes,

 

So, full disclosure, I'm not working for the guy who took me on back in January any more. To cut a long story short, after he bought a MEWP I found myself climbing less and less (I didn't get my harness on for a period of a month), I wasn't learning anything new, and my boss was generally just being an arsehole, so we decided we should part company. As I've said on here before, I'm happy to do any job whatever the weather, but if I don't get on with the people I work with then you simply couldn't pay me enough to stick around. Life is too short to spend literally every hour of daylight with people who you don't like, and who don't like you in return.

 

No biggie, I've been taken on year-round as a groundskeeper, gardener, cook, and general help for a local stately home with a short visiting season in the summer for tourists. It's a fluid role with lots of scope for projects... they want to start keeping pigs and bees and ducks, create forest garden areas on the grounds, develop the neglected Victorian kitchen gardens into something much more, bring the derelict greenhouse setup back with a piped water heating system (nine greenhouses? Oh my!), and loads more. The owners seem like friendly, open, positive people, and I'm absolutely thrilled to be working in such a beautiful environment.

 

Now, if you guys don't mind, I'd like to ask you all for some help with bringing their fruit trees in the kitchen garden up to scratch. I'm going to be removing as much deadwood and damaged branches as I can and removing all the suckers from their bases next week, but some of them could do with a little bit more work than that. It's probably a bit late in the season already for a really agressive pruning, and over the summer I'll be getting a three-year-plan together for any of the trees that need it, but there's one tree in particular that I want to get working on as soon as possible. It's waking up a lot slower than the other trees in the garden, so I think I'll get away with it.

Here are some pictures:

 

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We are looking at the poor thing on the right.

 

 

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Photo taken whilst I was pulling ivy from the whole length of the wall, so I got to have a good look at all the trees in the place. This is the biggest, and definitely needs the most help compared to the others.

 

I was going to thin out as many of the vertical sprouts as I can in the upper canopy, get rid of any dead, damaged, or rubbing branches, and take let a bit more light and air throughout, but just how hard can I be, given how late it is in the season already? Apart from two dead trees on the opposite side of the garden which I'm going to replace at some point, this one is visibly further behind than everyone else, which is why I think I could still get something done on it.

 

Thanks for any advice, as always, dudes.

Edited by peds

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Hope the employers haven't got unreaslistic expectations for you sounds like they are asking 1 person to cover all the jobs that  a dozen used to do historically?

 

That walled garden looks massive 🙂

 

As for the pear don't take off more than 25% to avoid a load of watershoots, it looks like it was maybe over pruned in the past hence the mass of upright shoots.

 

Best to do neglected trees  gradually over several yrs even though some owners will complain you haven't taken enough off etc.....

 

 

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18 minutes ago, Stere said:

Hope the employers haven't got unreaslistic expectations for you sounds like they are asking 1 person to cover all the jobs that  a dozen used to do historically?

Ha, no, nothing like that, there are dozens of people working here in peak season and a skeleton staff year round. There's a few other bods already in the garden doing the bare bones work, a general caretaker doing lawns and things, and an auld fella overseeing it all. They had to close for a few years unfortunately, which is why the trees were ignored for a while.

 

I understand your comment about overpruning and trying to prevent further shoots. I'll go slow and steady with the old girl. The owners would definitely appreciate that approach, they don't expect anything drastic. Cheers.

Edited by peds

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It says about good and bad times to prune  in the books, I can see you want to impress your new employers, but surely if most advice says, winter, summer, avoid spring then whats the rush? The tree isnt going anywhere

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Fair point, there's absolutely no rush at all, and it does make sense to follow the established timetable. But I'll be going through each tree (around forty in total) to remove deadwood and damaged branches anyway, as some of them look a bit shabby, and this specific tree was flagged as giving a decent crop of annoyingly-small fruit. I figured if there was anything I could do without being too invasive to change that to a medium crop of good-sized fruit whilst I was doing that tree then I might as well. 

But as you say it might be simpler just to leave it until next February. 

Cheers for your thoughts. 

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3 hours ago, peds said:

Fair point, there's absolutely no rush at all, and it does make sense to follow the established timetable. But I'll be going through each tree (around forty in total) to remove deadwood and damaged branches anyway, as some of them look a bit shabby, and this specific tree was flagged as giving a decent crop of annoyingly-small fruit. I figured if there was anything I could do without being too invasive to change that to a medium crop of good-sized fruit whilst I was doing that tree then I might as well. 

But as you say it might be simpler just to leave it until next February. 

Cheers for your thoughts. 

I would have thought this summer the fruiting spurs could be thinned, see e.g Brickell RHS Pruning has photo guide on spur thinning pear. On apple I have picked off new apples to leave fewer big ones. I read somewhere growers will pinch out flowers, but its an act of faith, if tree not pollinated thoroughly

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