The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Espaliered Fruit Trees, Part 5

Espaliered fruit treeNow for the fun part --- pruning and training!  Basically, pruning and training an espaliered fruit tree is a lot like pruning and training a free-standing fruit tree.  In both cases, you use judicious cutting to get the tree to branch or change direction, then you tie the resulting limbs into place.  The trick is that you need to stay on top of it --- no ignoring the espaliered tree for eleven and a half months then whacking at it one winter day.  Instead, you need to use winter pruning and summer pruning to create a solid skeleton.  Meanwhile, train the branches onto their support, catching new branches as they form when they are easy to mold to your will.  The best in depth description I've found on the internet is here.

An espaliered fruit tree may take up to a decade to train into its eventual shape, and you should be aware that espaliers will also take longer than a freeform tree to fruit.  But Europeans heartily believe that the resultant plant is healthier and more productive than its wilder counterpart.  I'm not sure I'm ready to give it a shot, but city dwellers could do worse than an orchard of fruit trees trained against the side of their house.

This post is part of our Espaliered Fruit Trees lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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