Here on the ground floor, in the farm’s former cowshed, you’ll find three separate sections with information on grafting, growing and pruning; on plant protection, and on harvesting and processing.
Let’s first turn to grafting as a method of improving the stock. As you probably know, you can’t simply grow top quality apple trees from pips.
Only a fraction of the pips, or seeds, would grow into a tree producing fruit like that of the parent tree. Most of the seedlings would grow into what’s known as wildings, bearing fruit that’s more like crab-apples – in other words, small, hard and sour.
To preserve a tree’s characteristics, it has to be propagated asexually. That involves transferring a shoot, or a single bud, from one tree to another – a process called grafting or budding respectively.
On display here, you’ll find early instructions on this method, examples of grafting, and the specialist tools, such as grafting knives.
The next chapter deals with pruning – a crucial subject. If fruit trees are left unpruned, they develop long branches with few laterals and grow unevenly. Uneven growth creates problems both for harvesting and for tree care and plant protection.
The aim of pruning is to obtain an open, bowl-shaped crown that allows the sunlight to reach all the branches equally. The fruiting branches should be two, three or more years old, ensuring that every annual harvest is roughly the same size. Because – and this is the most important reason for pruning – if you don’t prune the fruit trees, yields will always be inconsistent.
If a high yield one year is followed by a small harvest the next, it’s known as “alternate or biennial bearing” – because of a lack of pruning.
All depictions: © Gemeinde Fricklingen