Pruning advice

by Jana
(South Africa)

I've got a num num hedge on our side-walk but struggle to find the right tools to keep it nice and low as well as square. What tools do you use for pruning?

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Jan 15, 2023
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Pruning Numnum
by: Caroline

Hi Jana

Thanks for your query. I'm not much of a pruner till now. I must confess. I like my garden wild and natural looking. So I don't really prune to get a flat surface, I prune when branches are troublesome and hang in my path. The tools I use are therefore not the hedge clipping type, but more like the fruit tree pruning type. What stands out is the protective gear I use, thick gloves, big leather boots and sun glasses. To trim the tree I use a secateur, lopper (giant long handled secateur) and a bow saw for green wood, with big teeth. My choice of tool depends on thickness, whether the branch is pencil thick, finger thick or arm thick. When the thorny clippings are lying on the ground I lift them into a wheelbarrow with a garden fork. If I had a chipper I'd definitely grind up the branches and compost them. I use the small thorny branches as natural barbed wire to keep animals out of my vegetables, and the thick ones for firewood. Its a lot of work so sometimes I leave the thinner branches in heaps under the tree. A year later I hack them down with a panga or cane knife and they crumble into small pieces. By then thick fluffy black soil has formed under the pile of branches. You are not alone in your efforts to control these spiky trees ! I read that in California where they grow Numnum fruit commercially, they prune it into tall hedges to be able to harvest without impaling themselves on the thorns, which burn, as you probably know ! This has made me think of pruning the tree so that it has large vertical surfaces, which get sun but are easy to pick from. If it works out I'll post some information on what tools I use for that. I imagine much the same ones. I hope my rather inexpert answer helps you. Good luck, keep safe and enjoy the Numnum's culinary delights that I mentioned in my article, and many more you discover for yourself !

Caroline

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