Time to think about planting, pruning trees

February 16, 2008|By BOB KESSLER

The Franklin County Conservation District is holding its annual tree seedling sale. The trees are grown at a state certified nursery and will be sold in bundles of 25 per species. Orders will be taken through March 7. The seedlings will be available around the middle of April.

The seedlings will vary in height because some species grow faster than others. Most will be from 8 inches to 28 inches tall.

Species for sale include Douglas fir, concolor fir, Fraser fir, Colorado blue spruce, Scotch pine, eastern white pine, Austrian pine, white oak, red maple and white flowering dogwood. Bundles of 25 plants cost $14 to $21, depending upon species. Order forms are available at the extension office, the conservation district office at 100 Sunset Boulevard West in Chambersburg or on the website at

Fun food facts

Feb. 6 was Food Check Out Day, the day the average American would have earned enough money to pay for a year's supply of food, including eating out. Here are some other food facts:


· Many people think a large portion of our farms are factory farms.

In reality, only 2 percent of our farms are owned by non-family corporations; 98 percent are family farms. True, some of them have gotten large, but they are still family farms.

· More than 21 million American workers produce, process and sell our food. This is about 15 percent of the population.

· Farmers receive only 19 cents out of every dollar we spend on food. In 1980, farmers got 31 cents of every dollar.

· Today, each farmer produces food and fiber for 143 people.

· Farmers are going more high-tech; 92 percent of today's young farmers and ranchers use computers. Most farmers carry cell phones and have internet access, and 19 percent of young farmers use global position systems on their farms.

· Pennsylvania is the fifth largest dairy state and the seventh largest state in the production of eggs. We are the sixth largest producer of grapes in the United States.

Pruning fruit trees

Having a fruit tree in your backyard means you should know how to prune it. Pruning is essential for the health of the tree and for the quality of your fruit. A well-pruned fruit tree is easier to harvest.

Pruning doesn't require a lot of fancy equipment. A hand pruner is the most important tool to have. If you have a few trees, it is certainly worth purchasing a good one. It should be a bypass pruner (which workls like scissors) rather than an anvil type, which has a cutting blade and flat surface you cut against. You should also have a pruning saw to cut the larger branches. Both are easy to find in garden centers and catalogs.

February is the time for home-owners to prune apple and pear trees. Wait until Marchh for stone fruit such as peaches and cherries.

Pruning can't be learned from an article in the newspaper; you need to see how it is done.

There's a good slide series on a Penn State Web site that will walk you through all the steps, from newly planted to mature trees. To view it, go to

Bob Kessler is an extension agent specializing in farm and garden for Penn State University. He can be reached weekdays at 717-263-9226 or by e-mail at

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