Autumn, I love you! Your coolness is so much more agreeable to me than the stifling heat of summer. I get to wear slippers, winter pyjamas and woolly things. I get to appreciate hot drinks and a warm fire. And I get to do things outside without risking heat exhaustion. Woohoo! I am trying decide if autumn is my favourite season or if spring trumps it.

I haven’t had much time for gardening of late, but I’ve managed to get a couple of things done. Actually, I think The Husband has done more gardening than I have in the last few weeks. What’s up with that?! Dare I say his fingers have a slight green tinge all of a sudden? But most importantly, guess what? I finished pruning the feijoa tree. No! Yes! It has only taken me like a year of procrastination and avoidance… Well, hey, it’s a big tree. Now we can walk right around it, it looks more attractive and more light can get to the other trees in the orchard. It is practically spewing out feijoas at the moment. I cannot keep up with them! Thankfully, The Parents-in-law picked up bags and bags of them for us yesterday. I badly need to do some preserving. Must. Find. Time.

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The feijoa tree pruning is complete! Until next time. Where’s my trophy? Note the new pruning mountain in front of it that needs to be dealt with.
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This is what the feijoa tree and its fruit carpet looked like when we moved in a year ago.
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The feijoa tree last year – there was no walking around that thing!

While we’re on the subject of feijoas, The Husband has removed the resprouted feijoa trees from along the west side of the house. Whoever built the fence did it right over top of a row of big feijoa stumps. Novices. Didn’t they know how readily feijoas regrow? I left them for a while as I was contemplating having a feijoa hedge along the fence, but the big feijoa tree gives us more than enough feijoas, so having any more would be ridiculous. Now I need to paint the stumps with woody weedkiller so they stop resprouting. The fence looks very bare now. Plans for what to do with it include The Husband installing a clothesline on it and potentially growing grapes, passionfruit or both on the rest of the fence. That depends on whether I can actually dig holes and massively replenish the soil between the stumps. I’m a little skeptical, as I’m used to being trumped by stumps around here. I’ll put those investigations into the ‘later’ basket.

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The Husband has done a great job hacking down the resprouted feijoa stumps.

The Husband has also helped with major structural pruning of the two plum trees and removal of the shrubs right next to them. I marked out which branches I wanted cut and he chainsawed them down. He even learnt a bit about fruit tree pruning as I explained to him why I was taking those and other branches out. Some of the branches were very big and by the time I had finished with the trees they were looking kind of hacked. Never fear, they have not been hacked, but strategically pruned. I’ve never pruned mature fruit trees so hard before so hopefully they turn out alright as they grow back. Their centres have been opened up to let more light in for future fruit growth and strong, upright-growing branches have been removed or pruned back to lower, outward-facing growth points to end up with a lower, more spreading tree rather than a tall, gangly or criss-crossing tree with congested branches. Ideally, fruit trees should not be ignored, as a failure to prune them well, especially in the first few years, means harder work and less production in the long run.

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This isn’t the best photo, but, at the front left we have the apricot tree, which I have only pruned a few smaller branches off, behind it is the Billington plum and the yellow-fleshed plum is on the right. And the token pruning mountain is on the right. Now the trees have space to spread out at a lower, more reachable level.
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This was a few weeks ago. Aside from their neglected structures, the plum trees were getting crowded out by shrubs, reinforcing their upward growth and blocking out light.

 

The yellow-fleshed plum tree still has one big, tall branch that I would have liked to have taken down to a lower level, but it’s too tricky, being so tall and overhanging the fence into the neighbour’s place. Mind you, I think I’ve taken enough off it for now. Looking at my Billington plum tree now, there’s a distinct possibility that I took a bit too much off at once. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t take more than one third of the growth of a tree or shrub at once so that there are enough leaves left to support the energy needs of the plant. Obviously, I forgot this when I was high on the pruning buzz and got a little carried away. I just wanted to whip it into shape! It looks pretty whipped now. But I’m sure it will come back fine… While I was doing one pruning session, the neighbour had a professional walking around in the paddock looking at their pear trees and other fruit trees and discussing pruning options with her. And here I was, chopping away with my loppers and telescopic pruning saw borrowed from The Father. I hope he didn’t look too closely. At least my pruning was free!

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The Billington plum tree: whipped into shape.

The pruning mountains are growing faster than The Husband can chop them up. So many branches. Well, we should have plenty of kindling for the fire for a while and material for the compost.

Those are my great gardening achievements of late. I haven’t even pulled my dead or dying tomato plants out yet. I think I’m in the running for the world’s smallest gardening trophy. Vote for Twiglet, and all your wildest dreams will come true! (Shameless movie reference, but which one?)

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2 thoughts on “Autumn Gardening

  1. Thank you for your post.
    Will a feijoa stump regrowth ever become a fruiting tree again or just a shrub?
    Thank you,
    James (novice gardener)

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    1. Hi James, yes I think you could make a re-sprouting feijoa stump into a tree again. It’s all in how you prune it. If you want it to grow in a tree shape rather than a bush you would need to select one strong, upright stem to keep as the future trunk and prune out the rest. However, I don’t know how much of a battle it would be keeping the rest of the regrowth down. I think once the main stem got bigger and most of the plant’s energy was directed there, other re-sprouting would slow down. But I can’t say I’ve tried! Want one of my stumps? I only want rid of mine because we already have one giant feijoa tree that we struggle to use the masses of fruit from.

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