One of the many great aspects of our new allotment is the presence of so many permanent features, including a number of fruit trees. We have two apple trees – a cooking and an eating one – as well as a couple of trees which I think are probably plum, and a further couple that are, until they start growing in the spring, complete mysteries!
I think they’ve been left pretty much to their own devices for quite a while; they clearly all need some pruning, and after some research it turns out that winter is an ideal time to deal with the apples (plum trees, apparently, are better off being pruned in early summer).
It’s a bit of a balancing act; on the one hand, both trees need a fairly harsh prune to bring them more under control. On the other, apples only form on old wood, so if I prune them hard then we wouldn’t get any apples. In the end I restricted myself to reducing both their height and spread a little, and thinning out the worst of the overlapping branches internally. This is the first time I’ve actually pruned fruit trees of any sort, so I shall wait and see how well they cope – at least they are both big, established trees so it’s unlikely I’ll manage to kill them on my first attempt!