Monday, 5 August 2013

Pruning and results of Plastic Free July

A couple of weeks ago a kind friend came and helped me prune most of our fruit trees so that I could learn how to do it myself.  We still had three established trees left to prune after the lessons.  Yesterday we finally headed out to the orchard to tackle them.
We found it kinda stressful!
We didn't find it straightforward.  When you look at a branch like the one above you don't know where to start!  Is this a good structural branch that should stay?  Should we cut off some of the scrappy bits?  Arggggh!  Which ones?!!!  I think we did okay for novices but I suppose the apple and plum crops will let us know if we did a good job.... 
Our hard working Buddy Boy dug holes in the ground as we worked....
but when he started 'helping' us prune we handed him some offcuts and a pair of pliers!
Even the chooks were interested in our pruning methods!
And now that August has arrived I need to update you on Plastic Free July.  Keeping all of our single use plastic wasn't as easy as I expected.  Sometimes people forgot and threw stuff out and there was some plastic we couldn't keep.  I think we ate four meals of meat that came in plastic wrapping.  Obviously I wanted to throw those pieces out.  Next year I might keep a record instead of keeping the plastic.  I also had three pieces of plastic on the bench waiting to go into my plastic stash and when I went to get them, they weren't there!  So I think there was probably a lot more plastic that came through our house that wasn't accounted for.  It is such a habit to just throw it away that people do it without thinking.
Our final stash of plastic

I saved plastic from some organic socks I bought online (why do they have to come in plastic?), the wrapper from a block of cheese, nuts, some beer bottles that had plastic wrapped around them to keep the bottles together..... It went on and on.  Also, for some reason after having my natural hair colour (grey) for a good couple of years, it was during Plastic Free July that I decided I couldn't stand it for another minute.  I coloured it.  Boy did THAT produce a lot of plastic - bottles, gloves, tubes...

All in all, it was an interesting exercise that really made me aware of how much plastic is still in our lives.  I would encourage everyone to take part in a plastic free challenge.  Even a couple of days would be enough to get you thinking.

There were other interested factors in the challenge.  I have previously noticed that my family suffer some sort of strange eye rolling disorder when they are at my house.  Must be something in my house that sets them off!  Well an explanation of my plans to take part in PFJ and a request that they bring no plastic seemed to really exacerbate this condition.  Boy did their eyes roll!

And there were other unexpected dilemmas.  A friend arrived with finger buns for afternoon tea one day.   They were encased in a sturdy, single use plastic container!  Arggggh!  What to do?!!!  So did I handle this situation graciously and with thought for my well meaning friend?  No!  After some deliberation I decided to insist she take her container home - after we ate all the buns of course!!!
AND I asked her to stand with the container while I took her photo!  It's amazing I have any friends left really!!!

Do you know how to prune?  Can you do it with confidence?  Does someone help you with the task?

And did you take part in Plastic Free July?  How did you go?


Lynn said...

No, I didn't take part as there are too many eye rollers in our family! But I, myself, try really hard at not to use any plastics. It's not easy and sometimes I don't have a choice but at least I am a conscious user. If I can't convince my eye rollers I don't hold much hope for the rest of the planet unless its a forced issue!

Busy mum of 3 said...

I didn't participate, but I did make a super dooper effort to take my green bags absolutely everywhere, and although I'm not a huge user of plastic bags, I do get forgetful and lazy sometimes, so I'm sure I saved the planet some plastic.

I also made a better effort to use no plastic for my work lunches, which was easier than I thought it was going to be, and it really opened my eyes to some bad practices I had got into, so all in all, it was a learning experience, even though I didn't participate to the extent that you did.

GC said...

Hi Linda

I didn't take part, but I was suddenly aware of how much plastic I do throw out. Very useful posts.

Kirsty @ Bowerbird Blue said...

I like to prune, I'm not sure that its perfect but we get fruit each year, I think the trees are pretty forgiving. Plastic free is definitely challenging, I did take notice of our consumption for the first few days, it wasn't pretty, even when trying to do our best.

Tania @ Out Back said...

Our fruit trees are waiting for a prune. I agree it is a daunting task. We try to get the wine glass look with ours if you know what I mean.

I need to be more aware of plastic waste. I am getting better though :)

africanaussie said...

I have a lime tree in a pot and recently moved it into a sunny area. While it was more shaded it got long and leggy. I am tempted to cut it way way back, but also a little scared! so far I have done nothing but just think about it.... I wish I had a friend like you do.

Farmer Liz said...

I also get the eye-rolling, so I was very surprised when my husband decided to cooperate and even remembered to take greenbags shopping. Although the first rubbish day in August he then announced that PFJ was over and proceeded to put a bin bag in the bin (I know, it was great that he took out the rubbish, but I have been lining the bin with newspaper throughout July!). Anyway, I cracked up at you photo of your friend, that is gold, maybe she will think about plastic too now, it would be hard not to! I love that stick to your convictions!

Barb. said...

I did the PFJ Challenge. I thought I'd do alright but I failed completely. We can only keep trying. I would have used that container for seeds, as a little hothouse.


livingsimplyfree said...

I did take part in the PFJ, but found it hard as there were things I needed that I couldn't find other than wrapped in plastic. My biggest purchase as a (commputer) notebook. The case is plastic and there were 4 small plastic bags wrapping cords and the manual. Of course I counted every plastic not just single use as I would love to be completely plastic free.

Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

I took pat last year and it was a real eye opener to how much plastic comes into our home that we cannot recycle. We did make some changes but some things we have slipped on. As far as pruning goes I grew up on a blueberry farm so am comfortable with them. I go with the pruning to a pyramid for pomes (apples, pears, quince etc) and a vase shape for stone fruit.

Linda said...

Hi Lynn, No we don't have a choice. So much comes unnecessarily wrapped in plastic!

Busy Mum, I'm glad you learnt new practices. As for the shopping bags, I could NEVER remember them. In the end I decided to punish myself by buying new ones every time. I ended up with a ridiculous number of reusable bags but eventually I trained myself to think before I stepped out of the house!!!

GC, Plastic Free July is a great idea, isn't it? It DOES make us aware.... The start of a process.

Kirsty, WOW! You enjoy it! I'm looking forward to seeing if we end up with much fruit this year. I get the feeling that this year has been sacrificed for the good of years to come. Time will tell!

Tania, The shape I'm trying to achieve is the easy bit. Which bits to cut is not so obvious!! Good luck with your trees.

African Aussie, the citrus are easier. Just cut underneath branches so that it gets air flow and trim it down to the shape you want. You don't need to worry too much about the middle like you do with stonefruit etc.

Liz, Hubbys can be hard work sometimes, can't they! I hope we keep up the thought processes. My hubby is only just learning to remember to take shopping bags!!

Barb,It's hard work alright! And yes, I could have re-used it but there's only so much rubbish that you want to re-use. I'd love to get to the point that we don't have it in the first place.

Lois, Don't you hate it when stuff comes wrapped in plastic on plastic on plastic!!! Good on you for taking your challenge a step further. You're an inspiration!

Fiona, Another comfortable pruner! Hats off to you. And yes, PFJ is very educational.

Suzie Simplelife said...

I wish I had taken part in the no plastic challenge...I do try not to use plastic where possible..but boy is it hard..I do recycle any plastic containers I get...try to purchase everything in cardboard or glass if possible..only use glass storage jars...and am trying desperately to live without gladwrap...what did they do before it was invented??