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

Espaliering for frost protection

Young espalier

Our high-density apple experiment has been 80% successful. The technique has allowed me to grow lots of varieties in a small space, tricking them into blooming at a young age. The only problem? Due to our frost-pocket location, those blooms get nipped most springs, so we don't get any fruit.

So I'm veering off in another direction with my next round of experiments. Espaliered trees are trained to be two-dimensional and relatively short, so it's much more feasible to cover them during late-spring frosts. The only question is --- is MM111 rootstock too vigorous for espaliering? I went ahead and bent last year's graftees down along wires and am prepared to deal with lots of watersprouts if they pop up. Perhaps keeping fertilization to a minimum and summer pruning relentlessly will do the trick.

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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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You might enjoy reading "Grow A Little Fruit Tree" by Ann Ralph, which is all about how to prune trees to keep them small, and how pruning rather than dwarfing rootstock is the best way to work with your trees to have them fit your needs. I learned a lot from reading her book, and am intending to add more fruit trees to my small yard.
Comment by indigotiger Thu Nov 12 03:13:47 2015

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