BY DONNA WESTFALL
5 years ago, I dug up a small cherry tree from a friends yard that was about 4 or so feet tall. Within 3 years, it bore fruit. Not much, but it was a start. I don’t know exactly what variety it is, but it looks like it might be called RANIER. A variety that was developed in Washington. I only had one tree and always thought it took two for pollination and was delightfully surprised to see any fruit at all. One reason the fruit set is that bees are attracted to our lavender plants and may have flitted across the yard to our Cherry tree. This year, it had a very nice crop of delicious, eat’em- right-off-the-tree cherries. The problem, the branches were too high for my 6 foot ladder. Time to think about pruning.
In winter, once leaves have dropped, prune any dead branches, branches that cross over others, branches that grow toward the center of the tree, or any branch not growing upward in at least a 45 degree angle; these will break when fruit matures. Last night after dinner, one of our dinner guests went out and pruned the cherry tree. Other guests said they took the pruned branches of their fruit trees and stuck them in wood chips. Son of a gun, those branches rooted and sprouted leaves. Could it really be that simple?
•After pruning, I’ve learned that you should rake up dead leaves and discard in the trash, which hasn’t been done yet but will have to be because there may be fungus spores or insect eggs that could harm the tree if left to compost. Then, spread a thin layer of mulch around the bases of cherry trees to lock in moisture and give the roots an insulating blanket of warmth. Tomorrow’s job. One more tip. Whenever a heavy frost is expected, it would be best to drape cherry trees with plastic that reach the ground.
While gleaning apple trees around town, I’ve noticed that all of them also need to be pruned. Get those loppers out, folks!