The Herald Magazine - - etc GARDENING -

more open cen­tre. I re­strict the height to a max­i­mum of 2-2.5m to let me col­lect the crop from the ground rather than from a shoo­gly lad­der. With taller, less con­trol­lable ma­ture spec­i­mens like my Vic­to­ria plum, I can eas­ily reach higher fruit by scal­ing branches from the open cen­tre.

Start by re­mov­ing all dead branches and any dam­aged dur­ing stormy weather.

Re­move and de­stroy any can­ker­ous branches and then clean your tools with hot soap and wa­ter be­fore con­tin­u­ing.

Keep the cen­tre open by re­mov­ing in­ward-grow­ing branches and prune out any that are aim­ing for the heav­ens.

To al­low for good air cir­cu­la­tion and light, cut out cross­ing stems, re­mov­ing the older, less pro­duc­tive stems.

Thin out a con­gested clutch of fruit­ing spurs, leav­ing health­ier new ones. Re­duce or re­move down­ward-fac­ing and low-grow­ing stems.

And fi­nally stand back and check the over­all shape of the tree and sat­isfy your­self that it’s el­e­gant enough to ad­mire through­out the win­ter.

Over­all ap­pear­ance also ap­plies to crab ap­ples. Although branches can be re­moved to prevent a con­gested, tan­gly mess, they need lit­tle prun­ing.

Re­strict prun­ing to snip­ping off any low or strag­gly branches.

Visit asko­r­ Fol­low Dave on Twit­ter @bod­dave

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