Getting Back To The Basics

A place to show the changes in our yard, our garden, our home, and our life.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Espalier Fruit Trees - The Beginning

Today we started the process of getting our fruit trees in the ground and pruned so that they can take on a fan style espalier form.  Espalier is a term used for growing trees or shrubs flat up against a wall. The heat of the wall is good for fruiting trees and shrubs and the shape allows people to grow fruit in small spaces - which is basically our yard.

For this project I picked out two pear trees and one apple tree, all on semi-dwarfing root stock. The pears are Orcas and Comice, and the apple is Karmijn De Sonnaville. The Orcas Pear matures in September while the Comice matures through the winter, allowing me to spread out the harvest.

The location - south facing wall - before planting

As we started digging the first of the three holes we ran into a problem - tree roots. On the other side of this fence used to be some bigger trees that were cut down. I think we were saying hello to part of its root system. It took us a while but we dug out a good chunk of it. Hopefully enough to allow this Comice Pear to thrive.

The finished product, before pruning. Comice, then Karmijn, then Orcas. You can barely see Karmijn, but trust me. It's there.

So then it was time for the scary part - pruning these trees back. The pears were a little bigger than I wanted to start with, especially the Orcas, so hopefully these harsh pruning techniques won't harm them.  Time will tell. Worst case scenario I'll have to dig them up and look harder for younger trees.

I went with this very helpful article on how to start your trees into a fan shaped espalier tree. I didn't even cut them back as short as the article recommended. It basically comes down to preference. The article said to trim them back to 12" from the base, I went with 20". And since I was doing pretty significant cuts, I treated the cuts with pruning sealer to protect the wounds from disease. Not sure if it's necessary, but I wanted to be safe.

The final product

Comice Pear

 Dwarf Karmijn De Sonnaville Apple

Orcas Pear

In the next few weeks the trellis will be built and installed. We are using the trellis to train the branches and the overall look of the tree. Can't wait :)

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