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Practicing Biodynamics: Pruning in January

The Center for Sustainable Community Permaculture Observation Journal Entry #1, January 7th, 2013: Hayden and Ernest “Practicing Biodynamics: Pruning in January”

Today Hayden and I (Ernest) practiced pruning in the orchard. According to the North American Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar “Dec. 26th to Jan 9th and Jan 23rd to Feb 5th is the Northern Transplanting Time. The Transplanting time is a good time for pruning fruit trees, vines, and hedges, with Fruit and Flower times being the preferred times for this work.”  Today, Monday the 7th until 2 pm central, was a flower time and a good time to be out in the orchard pruning. We are wanting to get ready for the January Orcharding Permablitz which will be during the next Northern Transplanting Time, on January 24th and perhaps the first half of the 25th if anyone is interested.

But for now, here is what we learned on our orcharding adventure today.

  • First, we learned that we have some fairly large orchard trees and that climbing into them with a less-than-stellar chainsaw is scary, so we just used a bow-saw and loppers. 
  • We also learned that we need to sharpen our tools before we do any more heavy cutting. This will prepare us not only for the next permablitz, but for the future courses and other community maintenance we will be participating in this year. 
  • We learned that it was easier to have one person in the tree cutting and the other person on the ground watching for safety, giving a different perspective, and removing fallen branches. 
  • Additionally, we could have brought other types of saws and shears just in case. It would have been worth the effort to bring more tools than we needed.
  • I (Ernest) learned how to sharpen a chainsaw and that you should bring your chainsaw repair tools with you wherever you take your chainsaw. I think we get so used to walking around everywhere in town that we forget that when you go to work on the farm you should pack the vehicle and bring everything you may need, even if it is less than a quarter mile away. Maybe one day we can get a couple smaller draft animals, either a couple goats or a couple dogs.
  • It took us about an hour and a half to prune a relatively small tree compared to others in our orchard, which was still a pretty big tree. We are hoping that we can do about 4-8 trees on the 24th, and perhaps we can get some help from the Permaculture class that will be here from Jan 26th to Feb 2nd.

All in all, it was a pretty awesome day; the sun came out and shared its warmth, the windbreak of trees protected us from the wind, and thankfully Macy (the dog) avoided all of the falling branches. I guess we will have to wait till the spring or fall to find out if the tree liked what we did or not.

As a short disclaimer, we are not certified biodynamic, but we use the term because as part of the feedback Permaculture principal– “apply self regulation and accept feedback“–we feel that by learning biodynamics we will become more receptive to what our land tries to communicate with us. Hopefully, by becoming more receptive to the land, we will put our egos aside and listen to it, thereby building up the natural abundance and biodiversity that wishes to be expressed.

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Tags: agroforestry, backyard orchard, biodynamics, center for sustainable community, chicago, food forest, homesteading, indianapolis, midwest, orcharding, More…permaculture, prepping, st. louis, stelle


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Comment by Ernest Rando on January 21, 2013 at 4:10pm

Ya using the North American biodynamic calendar. Hopefully in time I will become more sensitive to what the plants and soil are always trying to tell me!

Comment by Ellen on January 19, 2013 at 10:36am

ok....I guess you are pruning around the full moon of Jan 27....it is supposed to lessen water sprouts. ;)

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