January gardening diary: Prune apple trees

The pruning of free-standing apple trees is fairly straightforward and a pleasant task at this time of year, when you can see the whole thing clearly. You will need secateurs and perhaps loppers. First, remove any damaged or diseased shoots, looking for the swellings of canker and cutting beyond them. Next, remove wandering shoots that cross and rub others. Then, prune the current year’s growth back to three or four buds, always to an out-ward-facing bud. From time to time, stand back to check the result.

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