Hummingbird House The Garden Helper
No-dash-here, you've found The Real Garden Helper! Gardening on the Web since 1997
vine bar
Wild Willy
 

Espliered apple trees

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2004
« Prev thread: Erosion Stoppers| Next thread: Eternity Plant »
Back to Thread index
by obywan59 on April 13, 2004 11:11 PM
Weezie had asked if pruning espaliers was difficult,so I'll try to explain how to do it. First of all, you need a support system. I used 4x4 posts set in concrete 8 feet apart. Then I strung wire starting at 30 inches above ground level. 3 more strands of wire were then installed at 1 foot intervals, so the top wire was 6 1/2 feet high.

Now you're ready to plant your trees. You need what is called a whip. This is an unbranched tree. Normally you would be planting during the dormant season, so it's basically a stick with roots. Plant the tree about a foot in front of the support. If the whip is tall enough, you can prune it right away. Top the whip just below the first wire. This will usually stimulate 3 branches to grow. One will be upright and 2 will come out more at an angle.

The way I did it was to use these 2 angled branches as the arms and let the upright one grow till it reached the next wire. However, pruned this way, the 2 side branches will rarely come out directly opposite one another. There could be several inches difference. What I would do now would be to rub off the new side branches while very young and let the terminal shoot grow till it reaches a foot of new growth. Then cut it almost all of the way back to just above the cluster of leaves at the base. This will stimulate side branches that are at almost exactly the same level.

Allow the 3 branches to grow till they're about a foot long and then pinch out the tips. This will keep buds lower on the shoot active so you don't get blind wood. You can then tie the side branches to the horizontal wire. The new growth at the tips will curve upwards, but allow another foot of growth before pinching and tying again.

During the dormant season, prune the leader again to just below the second wire and begin the process again. After a couple more dormant season prunings, your basic framework will be established. As the side branches grow along the wire and reach the posts at either side, prune out the tips to keep them from growing further.

By the time your upper tier branches have been formed, you will already have been pruning the lateral shoots that come off your lower branches. Do this pruning during the summer.

As the new growth off of the side branches reaches about 1 foot in length, pinch the tips and then 2 weeks later, shorten them to about 1 inch. This will prevent your trees from becoming overgrown and should help set up fruit buds. This method of summer pruning can also be used on free standing non-espaliered trees to limit height and encourage fruit buds.

As your apples begin to bear, you will need to start fruit pruning. When the apples are still small, prune off all but 1 fruit per cluster and more as necessary to leave 1 fruit roughly every 5 inches.

Also, fruiting spurs may in time become crowded so you may need to thin some of them out.

* * * *
 -
Terry

May the force be with you
by obywan59 on April 13, 2004 11:15 PM
I didn't proofread quite close enough. The spacing on the wires should have been 16 inches instead of 12 inches.

* * * *
 -
Terry

May the force be with you

Active Garden Forum

« Prev thread: Erosion Stoppers| Next thread: Eternity Plant »
Back to Thread index