When I bought this property I inherited about a dozen wild Cherry Plum trees. I've retained most of them with the idea of grafting on other fruiting varieties. Using the Cherry Plum as a root stock gives me the ability to graft on varieties of the Prunus family: Plums, Peaches, Necatines, Apricots, Almonds and Cherries.The Cherry Plums were all out of control, I removed a few of them and have been gradually prunning back the rest of them, using a few different approaches.
- The ground level pruning approach, with lots of young whips coming up.
- The hack it back really hard approach, with pretty good recovery.
- And the slowly, slowly approach which leaves some mature branches to bear fruit and still offer shade for the summer. I've used this later approach in prunning the established apple and pear tree, with a three to four year vision for bringing the tree down to a more managable level.
I've uses hand tools for the majority of the pruning, and it's been a huge job. The advantage of using hand tools is that I can use every part of the trees in the most constructive way. Large branches were cut using the prunning saw for use as poles / firewood. Medium sized branches were cut into smaller pieces using heavy duty lopers for use as firewood and stakes. The whips and small branches were cut using the secateurs and used for weaving on garden edgeing or kindling. Leaves and twigs were cut up usings secateurs for mulch, though I've recently been given a electric mulcher that I'm now using for that job.
|One of our Cherry Plums before pruning|
|Lopers, pruning saw, secateurs and gloves used to cut back overgrown fruit trees making mulch, firewood and poles in the process|
|Weaving long whips through stakes that surround a vegetable garden, with lettuce and parsley taking advantage of the edge|
|Weaving smaller straight stick into reinforcing steel off-cuts as a garden edging|
The trees have been cut back pretty hard, leaving the really large branches for the chainsaw, some mature ones to fruit and young whips remaining as grafting stock. I was given a range of largely unnamed prunus scions to practice with along with guidance from local gardening expert Brian Bowering. I made about two dozen grafts using the cleft / wedge and whip and tongue grafting methods. The idea being that I should do as many grafts as I could to practice with the tools and techniques, surprising to me was that most of the grafts took. As well as good technique / guidance, the timing is critical. As the tree begins to move out of dormancy, before the buds swell too much.
|Cherry Plum heavily cut back, but leaving some braches to fruit and whips for grafting on to|
|Grafting knives; orange one with a flat edge and a sharp edge folding knife. Tape; green one (florist tape) is used for taping up the end of the scion to reduce moisture loss, while the clear tape is to secure the graft.|
|A Peach (I think) cleft grafted onto a Cherry Plum, notice tag at base to identify it|
|The graft has taken, the tape will be removed at the end of the season|