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by Ed Ando
Fall is showing itself by the brightly colored leaves. We lit our
first fire of the year in our wood stove. The persimmon tree has orange
fruit hanging like Christmas ornaments. Now is the time of year to
check your pruning tools. Cleaning, oiling, and sharpening will make
your job easier. Do not attempt to cut through wood too large for your
A tool I use for 90 percent of all pruning is the Giraffe Long
Reach Pruner.
This set of tools enable me to prune from the ground. At 74 years of
age, I try to keep off ladders.
This remarkable tool comes in lengths of one foot, two feet, three
feet, 5 feet and 7 feet. The two foot model has a "cut and hold" head
that I use to pick roses. For more information call toll-free 877-245-8013. With your new apple, pear, and cherries, begin shaping at planting time.
Cut back limbs 1/4 to 1/3 the total size of the tree. Keep a central
leader, the upper most upright limb in apple, pear, and cherry. Remove
the central leader from peach, nectarine, plum and apricot trees.
Prune so there are no narrow v-shaped
notches. Try to prune all trunk limbs to form 10 o'clock or 2 o'clock
Every branch has buds pointed in different directions. Always
prune back to buds pointing in the right direction. Buds aimed up or
outward help your tree grow into a spreading shape and allows air and
sunlight into the center of the tree. 
If you keep up with your pruning and shaping each year, you'll be
making mostly small easy-to-heal cuts. That is far better than letting
things get out of hand and doing a lot of heavy pruning.
Remove upright branches and those that sweep back toward the center
of the tree. You want your tree to keep from becoming too thick and
crowded and to keep the height reasonable.
Apple, pear, cherry, and blue plum trees are best grown with one
central trunk with outward growing side branches arranged evenly around
the trunk. Avoid trimming off the stubby side branches called spurs.
That is where next years crop will be growing.
Peach, nectarines, apricot, and red plum will spread naturally if
you remove the central leader. Select 3 to 5 nearly horizontal branches
to form its framework.
Looking down on the tree it should look like a pinwheel. Fruit develops
on twigs
of last seasons growth. To encourage huskier twigs, summer pinching of
new growth for peaches and nectarines will
help bushy limb growth.
Plants and trees are an important part of the complicated balance
of all life on earth. Just like all other living things, they require a
balanced diet. But unlike animals, plants take their nourishment
directly from the soil and the air, with some help from the sun.
Their tiny hair like roots take in water with dissolved nitrogen and
minerals. Using small pores in their leaves, plants
breathe carbon dioxide. a waste gas from animals).
With the energy of sunlight and a process called photosynthesis,
they produce basic food elements. This food is used for the plants
continued growth and for its reproductive efforts.
Remember what we see as fruit, the tree has intended as a seed pod.
This pod is attractive to animals to bribe them into carrying seeds to
new planting locations.
Most every time a fruit tree doesn't bear, you can trace it back to
a lack of balance in the trees life system. The roots take water,
nitrogen, and other soil elements. The leaves take in air and sunlight
to produce food. When the tree has more food than it needs for itself,
it uses the surplus to make fruit.
If a tree has plenty of food reserves but lacks sufficient soil
elements, the leaves will be a light green and slender twigs will be
short. (less than 10 inches annual growth for a mature tree). This tree
is weak and even though it may bear
a lot of undersized fruit, it lacks the healthy growth needed for
continued production. Try these corrective measures:
l. Apply fertilizer with a high nitrogen 
2. Water well if the soil is dry.
3. Prune in early Spring, shortening last 
years growth by 1/3.
4. Spray regularly to keep tree healthy.
Fruit trees are supposed to be fruitful aren't they? So when they
don't bear , there must be a reason. Often you can do something to
help bring them into bearing.
First, how old is your tree? Most dwarf fruit trees will bear
their first crop the 2nd or 3rd season after planting. Standard trees
take longer. Apples and pears take 3 to 5 years; peaches and
nectarines 2 to 3 years; cherries, apricots
and plums 3 to 5 years.
Has your tree bloomed? If a tree is growing in partial shade or
rich soil, or has been heavily fertilized, it often develops excessive
branch growth at the expense of fruit production. Excessive pruning may
also be the problem.
All fruit and ornamental plants are subject to damage by pests and
That is why pest control either by pesticide or organic method is
advisable if you really want that high quality fruit your trees are capable of
Pest and disease information is readily available through your area
cooperative extension agencies. Also try up-to-date texts from your
local library or book stores. It is really worth your time.
Now for a personal announcement.
At the time Bert Etling asked me to write these gardening articles, I
promised Bert
I would write through one growing season.
This article will be my last. I didn't realize
the interest this article created in the Valley. The garden clubs that
toured my garden, Valley residents who brought out-of-town visitors, and
all the nice notes and phone calls were greatly appreciated.
I never professed to be a writer but I felt I had the ability to
motivate people to try new challenges.
When friends inquire about my life and plans, I reply by saying
that ship has sailed. I'm constantly asked about the Buellton Farmers
Market. That ship has sailed too. The following poem will close my
voyage as a writer. It is a quote from a book titled "Depression Bums"
by Ken
C. Wise. I enjoy this poem and it still brings a tear to my eyes when I
read it.
Some of my ships have sailed and some are being built.
The Boat That Never Sailed
Down in the harbor of Broken dreams
On the shores of Yesterday,
Her hull half buried by sands of Time.
A schooner lies rotting away;
And her broken beams are broken hopes
Of plans that have somehow failed--
And the tide drifts in and the tide drifts out
Past a boat that has never sailed.

Her timbers were made of the finest wood  

From the forests of Caribee;
Her sails were like wings of the albatross
That glide o'er the southern sea;
And her decks how they echoed her builder's song
as he fashioned her, plank and nail--
Now only the seagull's lonesome cry
Haunts the boat that has never set sail.

She never answered the siren call
of coaxing wind and tide;
She never breasted the Spanish Main
With the seas coming over her side;
And the pennant that hangs from her
broken mast
Never shook in the lashing gale--
For the tides of Destiny waxed too full
And the schooner never set sail.

Somewhere there are men with snow-white hair
Who sit in life's twilight years,
And often their thoughts drift wistfully back,
And often their eyes fill with tears
As they think of the dreams that have gone astray
And the plans that have somehow failed-
God, heal the hearts of the men who have built
The boats that have never sailed.
by Alban Wall