Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Pruning - Josephine de Malines

This is an example of what not to do. I'd rather forgotten about my Josephine de Malines. It in a slightly out the way place, behind my polytunnel, and was initially a very weak grower which I left to its own devices for too long. When it eventually started to produce, the weight of the fruit bend and distorted some of the main branches, which then started to produce water shoots where the branches had bent, and the result is a complete mess.

The first thing to do was take out any misplaced or crossing branches and try to re-establish a better framework for the tree. I'd would have liked to maintain a Y shape but the right fork was unfortunately sticking out at almost a right angle so had to come off. I left the bottom of the branch with one of last years shoots which I'll stake into a position to re-establish the Y shape; if it doesn't develop properly, I'll take it off where it joins the main stem and grow as a small, if slightly curvy, half-standard. The weak growth means this variety tends to form a 'weeping' shape naturally, so I hope it won't get too tall, but the tendency to bend under fruit weight does mean that we need to monitor it and support branches with heavy fruit if necessary.

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