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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Below is a chapter from The Little Pruning Book, printed in 1917 by Peck, Stow, and Wilcox Company. This slim volume is “An Intimate Guide To The Surer Growing Of Better Fruits And Flowers”, by F.F. Rockwell, and includes beautiful illustrations, candid humor, and excellent, applicable advice for pruning in the garden.
This chapter is entitled How To Prune- The Wrong Way and the Right; and Why the Latter is Worth While. 

“We have already said that pruning improperly done is worse than none at all. This applies not only to mistakes in pruning, too much pruning, or pruning in the wrong season, but also to a poorly done job. With plants, as with animal life, any wound is a danger spot, because it is a possible opening for the entrance of various diseases. Unless it is so made and cared for that it will heal quickly, it is almost sure to cause trouble sooner or later.

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“Practice alone, in pruning as in all other kinds of work, from dish-washing to piano-playing, can bring perfection. But in pruning there are many mistakes which even the novice can avoid, if he or she is fore-warned. The trouble is that any warning given on a printed page is likely to be forgotten, until it has been driven home by a lesson from that ungentle but effectual school ma’am, “Experience.” Therefore, to save yourself disappointment and loss where it is possible to do so, make yourself thoroughly acquainted with the suggestions given in this chapter, even if you have read it over several times.
As a general rule, the earlier in the development of the plant or limb, or shoot, the pruning required can be done the better.

We have seen that one of the main objects in pruning is to conserve the energies of the plant that are wasted by the struggle for survival among its branches, using it either to increase the general vitality of the plant, or to direct it to some particular part of the plant where it would help along the design or end that the gardener has in mind. Wherever, therefore, it is possible, pruning should be sone with the thumb and finger! In this way none of the plant’s strength is wasted on growth which is merely to be cut away later. Besides this, the wound left is imperceptible and heals almost at once, and the balance between the top and the roots of the plant is not upset. This finger pruning- in some cases called “dis-budding”- should be practiced a good deal more than it usually is. You are doubtless in the habit of removing the buds from your chrysanthemums to get larger flowers and of “pinching out” the surplus shoots on your tomato plants so that they will not attempt to bear more fruit than they can ripen quickly. Exactly the same thing can be done to many other plants, shrubs, and trees, thus saving the plant and yourself a lot of useless work.

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“But most of your pruning, even if you are more careful than the average gardener about “nipping in the bud” superfluous and undesirable growth, will be done with the pruning shears. In using them, there are four things which you should always keep in mind. Eventually they will become second nature, but at the outset you should learn them by heart, so that you can check them off on your finger tips any time you ask yourself what they are!

FIRST- Always leave a clean smooth cut. Careless cutting or dull shears, leaving a ragged edge, means slow healing and increased danger- to say nothing about its being the earmark of a slovenly gardener.

SECOND- Cut just the right distance above the bud. If you cut close to it, it is likely to be injured. If you cut too far above it, a dead stub will be left. On small branches and twigs, cut from a quarter to less than half an inch above the bud. If pruning is done when plants are in active growth, however, the cut should be made close to the bud, as it will heal almost immediately. The accompanying diagram illustrates how the cut should be made.

THIRD- Prune above an outside bud. This will tend to keep the new growth branching outward, giving the plant an open center with plenty or space and light. While in some specific case there may be reasons for selecting an inside but, this holds as a general rule.

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“FOURTH- Cut close up to and parallel with the main branch, trunk, or stem. In removing a branch from a tree or side shoots from shrubs or plants, the leaving of a stub, even if it is a short one, delays the healing or makes is possible for disease germs to enter, thus providing for future trouble.

Sometimes it is necessary to remove quite large branches. This should never be done, if it can be avoided, but with old trees that have been neglected, and in the case of limbs broken by ice storms, or through over-bearing, and from similar causes, there is nothing else to do. In such cases, the way that is the safest and in the end most convenient, is to remove the branch first, lopping it off with an axe, and then sawing off the stub, a foot or so above the point where the pruning cut is to be made; then the final cut may be made clean and neat, just where you want it. With large and heavy branches there is the danger that it will break before the sawing is finished, and strip the bark making a very serious wound. To prevent this, make a cut on the under side of the limb; then saw it off several inches beyond this, and remove the stub.

Much has been written about protecting large pruning wounds on trees. In cases where the center of the limb removed has decayed, leaving a cavity, this should be cleaned out thoroughly to sound wood, and lined with coal tar, then filled with cement. Sound wooded wounds over two or three inches in diameter should be covered with lead paint, or with tree paint made for this purpose, to within half or three quarters of an inch of the circumference.  This protects the center, which is the danger spot, and at the same time leaves clean bare wood for the new bark which should eventually grow in and cover the entire wound.”

The Little Pruning Book was printed in it’s entirety in the Fall 2009 Volume of the Small Farmer’s Journal. You can buy that Volume HERE,

or
specify the Fall 2009 Issue in our special back issue sale offer, which you can see right HERE.

 

 

Spotlight On: People

Livery and Feed

Livery & Feed

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from issue:

A livery stable, for the benefit of those who never heard of one, was an establishment which catered to horses. It boarded them, doctored them, and bred them, whenever any of these services were required. It also furnished “rigs” — a horse and buggy or perhaps a team, for anyone who wished to ride, rather than walk, about the town or countryside. It was a popular service for traveling men who came into town on the railway train and wanted to call on customers in cross-road communities.

Elsa

Elsa

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from issue:

I headed out with a gut feeling not that something was wrong, but that in these conditions there soon enough would be if I did not try. I made my way more or less by instinct across the open field and through the frozen swamp. In amongst saplings, rocks, and old rusty metal and wire there is a large, red haired calf half steaming where mom is aggressively licking her and the other half is iced over where her hooves and legs appear frozen to the ground.

Fjord Horses at Work in the Green Mountains of Vermont

Fjord Horses at Work in the Green Mountains of Vermont

We own a 40 jersey cow herd and sell most of their milk to Cobb Hill Cheese, who makes farmstead cheeses. We have a four-acre market garden, which we cultivate with our team of Fjord horses and which supplies produce to a CSA program, farm stand and whole sale markets. Other members of the community add to the diversity of our farm by raising hay, sheep, chickens, pigs, bees, and berries, and tending the forest and the maple sugar-bush.

Mayfield Farm

Mayfield Farm, New South Wales, Australia

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from issue:

Mayfield Farm is a small family owned and operated mixed farm situated at 1150 m above sea level on the eastern edge of the Great Dividing Range in northern New South Wales, Australia. Siblings, Sandra and Ian Bannerman, purchased the 350 acre property in October, 2013, and have converted it from a conventionally operated farm to one that is run on organic principles. Additional workers on the farm include Janette, Ian’s wife, and Jessica, Ian’s daughter.

NYFC Bootstrap Videos The Golden Yoke

NYFC Bootstrap Videos: The Golden Yoke

I couldn’t have been happier to collaborate with The National Young Farmers Coaltion again when they called up about being involved in their Bootstrap Blog Series. In 2013, all of their bloggers were young and beginning lady dairy farmers, and they invited us on board to consult and collaborate in the production of videos of each farmer contributor to the blog series.

The Way To The Farm

Lise Hubbe stops mid-furrow at plowing demonstration for Evergreen State College students. She explains that the plow was going too deep…

UCSC Farm & Garden Apprenticeship

UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden Apprenticeship

UC Santa Cruz is thrilled to welcome applications to the 50th Anniversary year of the UCSC Farm and Garden Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. The 39 apprentices each year arrive from all regions of the US and abroad, and represent a wide spectrum of ages, backgrounds, and interests. We have a range of course fee waivers available to support participation in the Apprenticeship.

Sack Sewing with Wayne Ryan

Sack Sewing with Wayne Ryan

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Watching Wayne’s sure hands it was easy for me to forget that this is a 91 year old man. There was strength, economy, elegance and thrift in his every stroke.

Loose Hay with Ryan Foxley

Loose Hay with Ryan Foxley A Farmrun Production by Andrew Plotsky

Hand-Harvested Food Challenge

The Hand-Harvested Food Challenge

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from issue:

In the winter of 2011, Daniel mentioned a fourteen-year-old student of his who had spent a whole month eating only foods gathered from the wild. “Could we go for two days on the hand-harvested food we have here?’ he asked. “Let’s give it a try!” I responded with my usual enthusiasm. We assembled the ingredients on the table. Everything on that table had passed through our hands. We knew all the costs and calories associated with it. No hidden injustice, no questionable pesticides. We felt joy at living in such an edible world.

Beating the Beetles – War & Peace in a Houston Garden

Blooming that is, unless the cucumber beetles arrive first.
And arrive they have … “At first I thought they looked like big, yellow lady bugs.” Paul said, “Then I looked…

Expanding the Use of the Heavy Draught Horse in Europe

Expanding the Use of the Heavy Draught Horse in Europe

“La Route du Poisson”, or “The Fish Run,” is a 24 hour long relay which starts from Boulogne on the coast at 9 am on Saturday and runs through the night to the outskirts of Paris with relays of heavy horse pairs until 9 am Sunday with associated events on the way. The relay “baton” is an approved cross country competition vehicle carrying a set amount of fresh fish.

Fjordworks: A History of Wrecks Part 1

Fjordworks: A History of Wrecks Part 1

I am certainly not the most able of dairymen, nor the most skilled among vegetable growers, and by no means am I to be counted amongst the ranks of the master teamsters of draft horses. If there is anything remarkable about my story it is that someone could know so little about farming as I did when I started out and still manage to make a good life of it.

Mule Powered Wrecker Service

Mule Drawn Wrecker Service

This will only add fuel to those late night discoursians about the relative merits of horses over mules or viciversy. Is the horse the smarter one for hitching a ride or is the mule the smarter one for recognizing the political opportunity which this all represents? In any event these boys know what they are doing, or should, so don’t try this at home without horse tranquilizers. Remember that politics is a luke warm bowl of thin soup.

Farmrun George's Boots

George’s Boots

George Ziermann has been making custom measured, hand made shoes for 40 years. He’s looking to get out, but can’t find anyone to get in.

Bud & Mary Rickett

Buck & Mary Rickett: Successful Small Farmers

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Ten years ago I answered a classified ad and went to a small western Oregon farm to look at some young laying hens that were for sale. That visit to Buck and Mary Rickett’s place made a quiet impression on me that has lasted to this day. On that first visit in ’71 my eager new farmer’s eye and ear absorbed as much as possible of what seemed like an unusual successful, small operation. I asked what must have seemed like an endless stream of questions on that early visit.

Changing of Seasons

LittleField Notes: Changing of Seasons

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from issue:

We are blessed who are active participants in the life of soil and weather, crops and critters, living a life grounded in seasonal change. This talk of human connection to land and season is not just the rambling romantic musing of an agrarian ideologue. It is rather the result of participating in the deeply vital vocation that is farming and knowing its fruits first hand.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT