Peach and apple trees need a substantial amount of pruning. Too much foliage on peach trees will result in small peaches and unhealthy trees. The same is true of apples. This pruning is usually done in the winter after the leaves have fallen and the trees have become dormant. My father would spend many very cold and dreary days in the winter pruning. I don’t believe that he enjoyed it, but he knew that it had to be done.
In the spring after the snow had melted and it had warmed up a little, my brothers and I would go to the orchard on Saturdays and stack the limbs in the middle of the rows. Then they would be pushed into a large pile with a tractor. The day that we pushed the limbs was a springtime holiday celebrating the end of the pruning. The neighborhood families would be invited to come, and we would burn all the limbs and have a big hot dog roast.
My brothers and I would each cover a potato with mud and put it into the pile of limbs where, in a few hours, it would be fully cooked. We would peel off the mud and enjoy the hot potato. Meanwhile we would all be roasting a hot dog over the burning limbs. We looked forward eagerly each year to this spring ritual. Events like this made life on the farm very enjoyable and worthwhile.
By Richard Gappmayer (Jennifer’s dad)
Jennifer’s two cents: Limb stacking was also my responsibility as a girl in our 6-acre peach orchard. It was a job I most especially hated because it was a lot of bending and dragging pruned limbs to the middle of the rows where my dad would come along with the tractor and scoop them up. It was long, hot, and very hard. But some of my most cherished memories are fall bonfires where we burned the limbs after all the pruning and stacking had been done. We invited the whole neighborhood and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. To this day, nothing brings back childhood memories like the taste of a roasted marshmallow. And to this day, roasting marshmallows is still one of my favorite activities.