Small Farmer's Journal

or Subscribe

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.

pruning-book-ft-1

“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.

pruning-book-ft-3

“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!

or Subscribe to read the rest of this article.

SmallFarmersJournal.com is a live, ever-changing subscription website. To gain access to all the content on this site, subscribe for just $5 per month. If you are not completely satisfied, cancel at any time. Here at your own convenience you can access past articles from Small Farmer's Journal's first forty years and all of the brand new content of new issues. You will also find posts of complete equipment manuals, a wide assortment of valuable ads, a vibrant events calendar, and up to the minute small farm news bulletins. The site features weather forecasts for your own area, moon phase calendaring for farm decisions, recipes, and loads of miscellaneous information.

Spotlight On: Crops & Soil

Rice as a New Staple Crop for Very Cold Climates

Rice as a New Staple Crop for Very Cold Climates

by: ,
from issue:

If you were visiting Earth from some other planet and had to describe its inhabitants upon your return, you might say that the average person eats rice, and grows it as well, usually on a small scale. You’d be accurately describing the habits of over a quarter of the world’s population.

Onion Culture

Onion Culture

The essential requirements of a soil upon which to grow onions profitably are a high state of fertility, good mechanical condition, properties – that is, if it contains sufficient sand and humus to be easily worked, is retentive of moisture and fertilizers, and is capable of drainage – all other requirements can be met.

Cultivating Questions Ridge-Till Revisited

Cultivating Questions: Ridge-Till Revisited

Delay ridge building until early fall so that the cover crop on the ridge does not grow more than 12” tall before winter. The residues from a short cover crop will be much less challenging to cultivate than a tall stand of oats, especially if tangly field peas are mixed in. Waiting for the winterkilled cover crop residues to breakdown as long as possible before ridge-tilling in the spring will also make cultivation much easier until you gain familiarity with the system.

Bamboo A Multipurpose Agroforestry Crop

Bamboo: A Multipurpose Agroforestry Crop

by:
from issue:

The bamboos are gaining increased attention as an alternative crop with multiple uses and benefits: 1) domestic use around the farm (e.g., vegetable stakes, trellis poles, shade laths); 2) commercial production for use in construction, food, and the arts (e.g., concrete reinforcement, fishing poles, furniture, crafts, edible bamboo shoots, musical instruments); and 3) ornamental, landscape, and conservation uses (e.g., specimen plants, screens, hedges, riparian buffer zone).

Cultivating Questions Winterkilled Cover Crops for a Mild Climate

Cultivating Questions: Winterkilled Cover Crops For A Mild Climate Part 1

Our mild climate makes it too easy to overwinter cover crops. Then the typically wet springs (and, on our farm, wet soils) let the cover put on loads of topgrowth before getting on the soil. Buckwheat is the only crop that I can be certain will winterkill. Field peas, oats, annual rye and crimson clover have all overwintered here. Any suggestions?

Winter Production of Fresh Vegetables

Winter Production of Fresh Vegetables

by:
from issue:

Any claim about winter production of fresh vegetables, with minimal or no heating or heat storage systems, seems highly improbable. The weather is too cold and the days are too short. Low winter temperatures, however, are not an insurmountable barrier. Nor is winter day-length the barrier it may appear to be. In fact most of the continental US has far more winter sunshine than parts of the world where, due to milder temperatures, fresh winter vegetable production has a long tradition.

Lost Apples

Lost Apples

The mindboggling agricultural plant and animal diversity, at the beginning of the twentieth century, should have been a treasure trove which mankind worked tirelessy to maintain. Such has not been the case. Alas, much has been lost, perhaps forever. Here are images and information on a handful of apple varieties from a valuable hundred year old text in our library.

Cane Grinding

Cane Grinding: An Age-Old Georgia Tradition

by:
from issue:

Most sugar cane is processed in refineries to give us molasses, brown sugar, and various kinds of white sugar. However, some South Georgia farms that raise sugar cane still process it the old way to produce the special tasting sweetener for their own food. One such farm is the Rocking R Ranch in Kibbee, Georgia. It is owned by Charles and Patricia Roberts and their sons. The process they use has not changed in the past 100 years. This is how it is done.

Peach

Peach

by:
from issue:

The Peach is a showy tree when in bloom. There are double-flowered varieties, which are as handsome as the dwarf flowering almond, and they are more showy because of the greater size of the tree. The flowers of the Peach are naturally variable in both size and color. Peach-growers are aware that there are small-flowered and large-flowered varieties. The character of the flower is as characteristic of the variety as size or color of fruit is.

An Introduction Into Plant Polyculture

An excerpt from What’s Wrong With My Fruit Garden
Companion Planting for Beginners

Syrup From Oregons Big-Leaf Maple

Syrup From Oregon’s Big Leaf Maple

by:
from issue:

There is a great potential in establishment of a seasonal “sugarbush” industry for small farmers of the northwestern states, particularly western Oregon and Washington. Five syrup producing species of maples are found mainly east of the Rocky Mountains. The Box Elder and the Big-leaf Maple are the only syrup producing maples of the Pacific Northwest. Properly made syrup from these two western maples is indistinguishable from the syrup of maples of the midwestern and northeastern states.

Swallow

Rotation As A Means Of Blight Control

Every farmer knows that when a crop is grown on the same field year after year, it becomes inferior in quality and the yield steadily diminishes.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Apple Cider, Autumn’s Nectar

by:
from issue:

While autumn’s beauty is food for our souls, autumn’s harvest provides food for our tables. Along with the many hours and days of canning and freezing our garden produce, harvest time also means apple cider making for our family. We have been making apple cider, or sweet cider as it is commonly called, for six years. Beginning slowly, the demand for our juice has resulted in a production of over six hundred gallons this year.

What We've Learned From Compost

What We’ve Learned From Compost

by:
from issue:

Our compost piles will age for at least a year before being added to the garden. We have learned that the slow aging is more beneficial to the decomposition process as well as not losing nearly as much nitrogen to off-gassing as happens with the hot and fast methods. Another benefit is the decomposition is much more thorough, destroying weed seeds, pathogens and any unwanted chemicals much better in a slower composting setup.

An Introduction To Farm Woodlands

The farm woodland is that portion of the farm which either never was cleared for tillage or pasture, or was later given back to woods growth. Thus it occupies land that never was considered suitable, or later proved unsuitable, for farm enterprises.

On-Farm Meat Processing

The demand for fresh, local meat products – with no taint of industrial process – is absolutely staggering.

Barnyard Manure

Barnyard Manure

by:
from issue:

The amount of manure produced must be considered in planning a cropping system for a farm. If one wishes to manure one-fifth of the land every year with 10 tons per acre, there would have to be provided two tons per year for each acre of the farm. This would require about one cow or horse, or equivalent, for each six acres of land.

Journal Guide