Paul Gautschi is a certified Master Arborist. He opens up the center of the fruit trees to let in light and air; the branches are weighed down by the heaviness of fruit. The roots are relatively shallow and spread out widely through the loose compost. (The cat serves as one of the homestead’s expert vole catchers!)
2 thoughts on “Gautschi-Pruned Apple Tree”
How do you hold the branches down? I am familiar with pruning fruit trees for open canopy, but not the downward growth. Great way to avoid ladders, falls and easier to maintain! Thanks for sharing.
Hi Sara – I wondered the same thing – they certainly are twisted looking, aren’t they? Please note – these are not my trees, but those of Paul Gautschi – and he is definitely the expert here. From what I see, he prunes off the upward shoots and then prunes the tips, if at all, at a bud that is pointed the direction he wants them to grow. He said these are supposed to be “dwarf” trees, but they are essentially growing in compost, and so the trees are actually quite large. The roots spread out freely in the loose soil & take in a lot of nutrients. Despite the fact that he does not water, the fruit is huge, heavy & juicy, so much so, that it pulls the branches down – which further trains the branches in that direction. The apples don’t have far to fall, and when they do, they land on a soft cushion. He does not pick all the fruit at once; he waits until each apple is at its peak. He said the branches provide additional stabilization where they touch the ground, kind of like a 3rd leg on a stool. And since he doesn’t mow around them, they are not in the way. Makes sense to me! The Back to Eden film provides a lot more ideas. As a side note, some people I have talked with say if they get all the way to the ground, it provides an elevator for insects – I did not see a problem of that sort at Paul’s orchard, but it was early spring, and it’s worth keeping an eye out for. I am still trying to finish up pruning our orchard, and avoiding the ladders would be a good thing! Best of luck to you & thanks for visiting the blog!