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Winter Pruning on the North Coast 

click to enlarge Yikes. A tragic trim on public property.

Photo by Julia Graham-Whitt

Yikes. A tragic trim on public property.

Winter has finally arrived in Humboldt, after the sunshine and warmer temperatures in early January. We've had frosty nights, even on the coast, and now the normal rains have returned, at least for now.

But it's still time to get out in the garden, especially if you have fruit trees, ornamental flowering trees or roses. Winter is the time to prune most fruit trees, though not all (more on that in a bit), due to their dormancy, when they stop most growth and conserve energy.

Which fruit trees do you want to prune in the winter? Well, I'm glad you asked. Most pome fruit trees (apples and pears) should be pruned now, before they break bud and their leaves and flowers start to grow. If you've never pruned your apple trees before, it's a good idea to do some research or hire someone who has experience. As a professional gardener, I'm often called in to repair trees after some "landscapers" — mostly mow and blow folks — prune a tree. And by prune, I mean hacking all the arms off with a chainsaw. It's mentally painful for me to see what some folks consider pruning.

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