[permaculture] spindle cut orchards

dwoodard at becon.org dwoodard at becon.org
Sun Jun 3 01:06:42 EDT 2007

Linda, "nature" may be "perfect" but I think you should be more careful of
your words.

Nature is interested in reproducing the tree species (as a rough
with a minumum bribe to the hairless apes for spreading the seed.
Providing either maximum nutrition or a taste experience to the hairless
apes are not high on nature's priority list, and for these items the apes
have to look after themselves.

Planting seeds means no cultivars. full sized trees late to come into

No pruning may mean lower quality of fruit as well as lower yields.

Your choice.

The seedling apple orchards of the North American settlers were not bad
for dried apples and cider when land was cheap, population was sparse and
farms were mostly for subsistence.

There is a lot of cultural territory between spindle pruning and unpruned
seedling trees.

Doug Woodard
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada


 Lots of permaculture designs that I have seen include espaliers and
> variations and all the permaculture reading I have done advocates
> pruning which just doesn't sit right with me.
> Permaculture site design is fantastic but where growing is concerned my
> heart goes with Fukuoka's natural farming where you allow the trees to
> grow to their natural form - but that's incredibly difficult to achieve
> and most would say impossible. You can't grow natural form on rootstock
> because the roots and tops have already been broken/pruned before
> purchase so they have already lost their natural form. The only possible
> way is fruit trees from seed or graft a seedling top onto rootstock
> grown insitu. I think you need to be really in tune with your
> environment and your plants to make this work.
> I'm going to give it a go anyway! I am creating a food forest where the
> trees will be left to grow to their natural form. Once I am gone the
> school will not have the resources, manpower etc to put into a high
> maintenance site and as you said - I didn't understand that was really
> what permaculture was about. You should be able to leave it and have it
> keep on producing in perpetuity.
> One thing I don't get. Everyone says if you don't prune you won't get
> any fruit, or only on the very ends of branches - and then you read
> these things where other people say that 100 year old apple tree just
> keeps bearing year after year. How can these 2 completely opposite
> positions both be true?
> I believe while we prune, butcher etc we are doing nature a huge
> disservice. Why do we revere nature so much and seek it out to nurture
> our souls. Because nature is perfect on her own. If you prune then leave
> the trees for a year or two then all the branches cross over each other
> and you create a deformed unhealthy tree. If you had left it alone from
> the start you might not have quite so many fruit but the tree would
> continue in good health. Trees are just right as they are, I say leave
> them to it.
> I would really like to hear comments on this because it is the one area
> I always struggle with. It's nice to hear someone else finds it a bit of
> an affront to nature.
> Paul - are you ok with general pruning - and if so, how do you really
> differentiate it?
> Cheers, Linda
> -----Original Message-----
> From: paul wheaton [mailto:paul at richsoil.com]
> Sent: Sunday, 3 June 2007 5:18 AM
> To: permaculture
> Subject: Re: [permaculture] spindle cut orchards
> I had some friends over for breakfast this morning and I mentioned
> this.  After that I want to talk about it here more.
> I guess what I'm fishing for here is not just more info.  I want to
> either get comfortable with the idea, or I want to get support for why
> it ain't permaculture.
> At the moment, I feel pretty outraged at this practice.  I'm open to
> the idea that I am simply ignorant - with a little more understanding
> a path will be illuminated to show that this practice can be
> incorporated into permaculture.  But my gut says that ain't the case.
> Lack of diversity bugs me.
> Lack of canopy layers bugs me.
> But I think the thing that bugs me the most is that the trees are
> treated so disrepectfully.  It reminds me of debeaking chickens or
> confining pigs into something where they cannot turn around.  I've
> never been one to do physically hug a tree - I keep the chain on my
> saw pretty sharp and I'm not bashful about taking out trees to help
> the farm - or me.  But it is done with the idea that I am working with
> nature.  This seems  ....  twisted.  Is this not one of God's
> creatures that is being shackled and squeezed to produce more money?
> It seems icky.  It seems far from permaculture.  It smells like a new
> direction from big ag.
> Or maybe I just don't fully understand it yet and I'm just reactionary.
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