[permaculture] spindle cut orchards

jedd jedd at progsoc.org
Tue Jun 5 06:15:33 EDT 2007

On Sun, 3 Jun 2007, Linda Shewan wrote:
> 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?

 Don't believe everything everyone tells you.  For example,
 don't believe the following without checking details yourself,
 as I can't recall where I heard this snippet from.

 Fruit trees (some - maybe stone & pome only, maybe others) tend
 to put out fruiting spurs on branches that are horizontal, and
 branch / leaf growth on vertical branches.

 Assuming this is the case, and it makes some evolutionary and
 survival sense - a tree shouldn't be trying to put energy into
 generating fruit until it's established enough to safely expend the
 energy required - then you're going to get more fruit from an
 espaliered tree than you would from a tree of the same age but
 with mostly upright branches. There may be other, better, explanations
 for why espaliered fruit trees produce more fruit, at a younger age.

> 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.

 This is a bizarre attitude, and suggests that the imperatives that
 trees have (survive, replicate) should be respected above the
 imperatives that we have for them (provide food).

 Nature is far from perfect.  Catch public transport for a day if
 you need proof.  Revering it is one thing (probably not a healthy
 thing) but taking a fruitarian approach to all aspects of gardening
 is an entirely different proposition.

On Sat, 2 Jun 2007, paul wheaton wrote:
> I think the thing that creeps me out the most is that these trees do
> not give me the sense of working with nature, but making nature your
> bitch.

 Paul, I think the problem here is a matter of degree.

 If you stake your tomatoes (or even pinch out the top or side
 shoots) are you treating that plant as your biatch, or does this
 fall within the acceptable limits of what you can do to a plant?
 The Genera Convention, as it were.  Ha ha.

> My impression of permaculture is coming
> up with systems where you can walk away and just come back for the
> harvest each year. 

 This works well for systems based around perennials, but doesn't
 scale so well with to vegetable garden (assuming you decide you
 need one).  You can reduce the effort, but it's still going to be a
 comparatively intensive operation.

 Perhaps if you considered these trees as an annexe to the high-
 intensive vege patch rather than the low-maintenance rambling
 orchard, they'd sit better with you.

> And are being shaped
> to something that nature did not intend.

 Did nature intend you to come along and cut your comfrey and
 alfalfa down to the ground several times a year, shift it into a big
 pile, mix it up with animal poo then scatter the results around your
 garden?  Did nature intend carrots to grow anywhere other than the
 middle east?  Oranges and bananas to grow sans seeds?

 I have a hard time with any anthropomorphism of nature, but this
 is a particularly tenuous claim.

 I don't think I'm prepared to defend the unstated claim that what
 this lass was doing 'is permaculture' .. but I will happily (as above)
 point holes in any argument, coming from a permaculturist, that is
 predicated on the 'we leave nature alone' myth.  This is absolutely
 not what we do.


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