Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cut Back to Get More

Good weather has finally arrived here in Cache Creek.  Grass is greening and bulbs are sprouting.  I've spent the last two weeks alternating a day of yard work with three of recuperation.  During a recent achy day, while brainstorming ideas for this blog, I happened to look up “thrift.”  Here’s one definition by :  … “5. an obsolete word for prosperity.”  Huh.  That led me to their definition of prosperity:  … “3.  thrift - First meant acquired wealth, prosperity, success.”  The idea resonated with me more than the usual definitions.  Then I noticed one synonym of thrift is “good husbandry” and that’s when it hit me:  Why not share the thrifty-come-prosperous work I've been doing?

Mainly, said yard work, which was pruning.  The place we rent has several perennials and trees all of which were left on their own too long and had grown rangy and tangled.  They were more than unattractive; they were blocking the light for other plants.  Worse, their crops of flowers, buds and fruits had diminished in quantity and quality.  Some had stopped producing altogether.

Slowly, over time, I've pruned the plants, and now they are becoming strong and productive once again, not to mention attractive and pest-free.  It seems contrary to cut back branches, cut down stalks, or saw away boughs, but a carefully pruned plant will actually produce better when extraneous limbs are removed.

Pruning anything, whether it be a tree, a bush or a perennial must be done at its suitable time of the year, though.  Spring and mid-winter are the most common times to prune shrubs and trees.  Some plants benefit from pruning right after summer flowering.  Many perennials or canes produce more blooms or fruit if continually dead-headed and/or harvested.

Once you have research on each plant in your plot and their varying requirements for pruning and trimming, you can make notes on your calendar.  I like a quick review before pruning, though.  Some plants can be cut right down to the ground; others to specific limb-joints.  Some benefit from the old or main stock being preserved while others are cut back to allow new growth to replace it.  Far too much information for me to recall without a brief refresher referencing one of my gardening books.

Oh, and one little reminder – I seem to forget this each spring – before you head out to do any yard work, remember to do a five minute warm-up.  It’ll save you some Epsom salts.  : /