Time for pollarding

The vegetable patch is usually a very sunny and protected place to be, but our windbreak of sitka spruce has grown a little too enthusiastically in the past two years. Even on a sunny day like today the vegetable are shaded for almost two-thirds of the day. It will be worse come autumn and winter.

The shadows are now so long as to leave all the vegetable beds in shadow from around 4pm. I’ll have to pollard the trees this weekend, provided the wind drops and it doesn’t rain. As they’re spruce trees, it’s quite an interesting experience climbing them—their needle-like foliage gets in everywhere and it’s often difficult hauling equipment up on a rope thanks to the thick profusion of branches. Oh well, it’s always good to find more jobs to add to my list.

13 Responses to “Time for pollarding”

  1. Please be careful……!

  2. I started on them this morning. However, the end trees are the only ones with branches sufficiently large for climbing. I’ve a pruning saw with a 15-feet long handle but the height and angles aren’t quite right. I need to be at least six feet off the ground to cut the trees off at 20ft. Hmmm.

  3. Now if you stand on the OH’S shoulders as she is balanced by the boys you should be able to ….. mmm, on second thoughts …….

  4. Learned a new word today :)

    Thanks, and good luck!

    • Pollarding is mainly used on broadleaves, although yew also lends itself to the technique. However, a few years back the electricity linesmen pollarded the spruce trees below the power lines that cross the croft. To our surprise, instead of dying, the spruce trees grew back stronger and denser than before. Now I’m trying to do the same thing to the windbreak around the vegetable patch, but it’s proving difficult. I really need a Land Rover Defender with a boom-mounted aerial access platform.

  5. I’ve had two emails telling me I shouldn’t be doing this in summer. Well, I had a broken wrist back in late winter/early spring so I couldn’t do the job then. And it needs to be done now to let the sun through onto the vegetables.

    • You can pollard when you like as long as there are no nesting birds present in the trees according to English law (does that apply in Scotland?). It is just more difficult in summer when the sap is rising.

      • Aside from two pairs of wood pigeons in the other windbreak, which I’m not pollarding, there are no nests in the spruce. The birds prefer the hawthorn hedge I started a few years ago, the beech hedge across the road, and the various broadleaves around the place. There are also swifts in the outbuildings, blackbirds in the banks and various species in the patches of long grass I leave around the croft.

  6. Consider taking every second stem out as well. A porous windbreak provides better protection than a solid one, as well as letting a bit of light through. Planting a slower growing row of a native trees on the outside would really be appropriate, too. Slacker.

    • Funnily enough, that’s what the Wee ‘Un and I were doing this afternoon: taking out alternate trees. We started planting native hardwoods a few years back, but it’s a slow process.

  7. sorry about the dreadful icon attached to my post ~ not my choice but seems really hard to change it

  8. Also meant to say made scones following recipe no 1 yesterday and they are fantastic ~ thank you

    • Thanks. We happened to have home-made scones with home-made jam and oodles of cream for afternoon tea today. And I just had another one for dessert. :D

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