Prunning Fruit Trees

It’s time to prune your fruit trees again, if you want large and healthy fruit. In fact, time is already running out if you live in planting zones numbered six or above.

Prunning trees

Here’s some tips:

– Start by cutting off every branch that grows straight up. They seldom bear fruit.
– Now that you can see into the overall health of the tree, remove anything that shows signs of disease, missing bark or is dead.
– Next, remove every branch that grows toward the center of the tree.
– Finally, remove any branches that are left that cross the path of another branch.

I grow dwarf trees. I intend to pick without a ladder, so I remove every branch whose tip I can’t reach.

On my more mature trees, I remove every branch within a foot or two of the center of the tree. This allows lots of sun into the center of the tree.

How to cut? First, use a good pruner with sharp cutting edges. Cut about 1/4″ above bud points or close to the trunk. Always cut at an angle.

A well pruned tree will always bear fruit. I inherited my love of fruit trees from my Dad, who got it from his Dad. Grandpa’s pruning advice was simple. Prune until you think you’re going to kill the tree. Then, prune some more.

Like shedding the bad habits of life, it’s not always easy. But, ending a bad always makes us a better person.

Pictured with me in the photo is my trusty garden cart. I’ve owned that cart for over 20 years. I’ve hauled firewood through a foot of snow. Moved fill dirt from one side of my lot to the other. Carried tons of manure out of the barn with very little effort. I did all these things without starting the tractor or breaking my back. It’s a great piece of equipment I heartily recommend for any size lot! Click here for more information.

Hour Without Power

This Saturday, March 28th, millions of people around the world will turn out their lights for one hour to draw awareness to global warming. Now, I’m not going to get political, environmental or any other “al” about the whole thing (to each his own, I always say), but it does seem like a rather simple, and dare I say, pleasant thing to do. Just turn things OFF – the lights, the tv, the radio, computer, etc., etc., etc. -  and have a little quiet time with those vaguely familiar humans who inhabit our houses  (our families).

As purveyors of hundreds of non-electric products and the publisher (for over a quarter century) of the Non-Electric Catalog, one hour without power sounds pretty easy, and even somewhat amusing to us. After all, many of our loyal customers live this way the majority of the time…

There are myriad activities one could enjoy with the lights (and other appliances) off, but here are a few suggestions that spring to mind.

Light an oil lamp and open a good book

Light a candle and pray, meditate or just think

Sit in the dark and tell stories, reminisce or have a family planning or brainstorming session

And, if none of those are appealing, why not go to bed early and get some (probably much-needed) extra shuteye?

Are any of you planning to participate this Saturday? If so, please comment and let us know what you did and how it went. We await your responses!

For more information, visit www.earthhour.org.

Growing Tomatoes, Part II: Sprouts!

By this point we shall assume that you, the intrepid future tomato gardener, have acquired the seeds of the variety (or varieties) thtomatosprouts3at appeal most to you. If you’re a tomato fan it’s likely that you enjoy more than one example of the “love apple,” as it was known centuries ago. You might also be keen to try a new one along with your old favorite — but even if you’re just beginning with one cultivar, you’ll need to germinate your seeds to get started.

Vegetable seeds require heat, light, air and moisture to sprout. At first they don’t actually need any soil; the seed itself contains enough ‘food’ to get itself started with a set of immature leaves and rootlets. Even if seeds are set in a rich medium, all the soil will do is hold up the sprout as it unfolds, not feed it. Believe it or not, it’s actually a bad idea to germinate your seeds in a rich planting medium. The reasons are mold and mildew. Continue reading

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Feeding your Body and Soul for Spring

Springtime cooking can be challenging. We as meal planners are so ready for a change from cold-weather rustic to springtime fresh.

asparagus

More outdoor activities of cleaning up the yard and working in the garden can demand meals that are hearty and feed the body and soul.

Here are some springtime recipes for your families that aim to both satisfy tummies and incorporate fresh spring vegetables. Continue reading

Irish spring foraging makes good-for-you cooking

stinging-nettle

Stinging Nettle

Spring finally has the sun splitting the sky here in Ireland. The winter aconite was very much later this year, as were the wild primroses and my planted daffodils. Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day the weather turned discernibly softer during the days, although the nights can still leave a ground frost.

What really alerted me to how late spring was this year was the non-appearance of the stinging nettles. The upside of stinging nettles is that they are a harbinger of good soil fertility. The downside is that they are rampant and will choke the life out of any vegetables you plant. Continue reading

Food from the beginning

Mom was born a few years before the Great Depression. Grandma, a widow, raised nine kids on a farm by herself. She didn’t have food stamps or a welfare check or earned income credit. She did have fresh food, good water and a zest for life. Real milk, fresh eggs, nuts and berries from the forest, wild foods and home grown vegetables were their fare. There was not much else, but who needed it?

I remember fried chicken for Sunday dinner at Grandma’s. It was about the only time meat was on the table but Grandma never ate it. She said she didn’t like chicken and I could never understand why. It was much later I learned the reason she wouldn’t eat it. Continue reading

Is it just me?

I was reading an online magazine article last week that left me with an urge to reach through my computer monitor and shake the “Senior Editor” while yelling “what’s the matter with your head?” at the top of my lungs. Obviously an overreaction. I’m alright now.

The article was partitioned into a dozen small examples of “mistakes”, each authored by a professional home improvement type, with the idea that impartial sharing of errors can help you and I avoid doing the same. Ok, I can go there; and genuinely appreciate folks taking the time to share information. The truth of the matter is that, while I don’t generally have a problem with jumping in with both feet, I do have an aversion to acquiring first hand experience with potential home improvement pitfalls like . . . electrocution. It seems reasonable and I pay attention when reading things that include the phrase “a very bad idea”.
Continue reading

Ohio’s Best Dressed Farmer!

Ohio's Best Dressed Farmer Making HayWith spring slowly coming, I’ve started thinking about planting, bringing on fresh herd of steers and the rest of the summer chores on my little farm. My Dad, after over 50 years on the job, still works alongside me at Lehman’s. He likes to tease me about being a “telephone farmer.” What he means by this is that every time I have a big job I call someone on the phone to help me.

I admit that it’s true: Most of the big jobs (like baling hay, for example) involve a phone call. I just don’t have time to make hay the old fashioned way, as much as I would like to. So, instead, I call a friend to bring his equipment from the neighboring farm.

I spend most of my day, after all, behind a desk where I spend hours on important tasks like writing for this blog!

The fact that I’m not a “real” farmer is underlined by the fact that what I wear to farm in is old dress clothes from work. This includes dress khaki’s with frayed hems and dress shirts with faded colors. I guess that makes me the best dressed farmer in Ohio!

Whether I’m wearing old dress clothes or a farmers overalls, I’m looking forward to the real pleasure of hard physical work to keep a spring in my step this Spring. After a day of working at a desk, there’s few things more pleasurable than a layer of good, healthy sweat and feeling the burn of fresh calousses forming on my hands!

As easy as one, two, tree…

Our illustrious founder, Jay Lehman, was at it again today, planting trees right outside our office window. This time Jay was riding in the planter on the back, and another gentleman drove the tractor. Just another cool scene we see out our windows on a random Thursday, and one of the many reasons I  enjoy working here. At what other place of employment do you see top executives planting trees?!

Planting trees next to the parking lot north of warehouse

Planting trees next to the parking lot north of warehouse

Jay gets a short ride up and over the driveway!

Jay gets a short ride up and over the driveway!

...and the planting continues.

...and the planting continues.

Click here to read about Jay’s tree planting last April (more photos, too).