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

Two-dimensional tree training

Espalier supports

I started our espaliered apples at the grafting stage, which gave me an extra year of wiggle room before I had to decide on the shape I planned to train them to. Then last fall, I made a simple setup of crossed wires between t-posts and bent the trees along the lines. But nine months later, the apples had already outgrown their first training wires --- time for a second set of supports higher up!

Training an espalier

The espaliered apple in front of the porch got even less formal training. I just bent down limbs to attach to nearby objects willy-nilly. In the case of both this tree and those trained to wires, I also bent down or snipped off secondary branches that were reaching for the sky.

My goal with both sets of training is pretty simple --- keep the trees two-dimensional and easily coverable during spring freezes. A few of the trees already have flower buds, so I might get to test out that hypothesis as early as next spring (although 2018 is more likely). Here's hoping my 2D apples are a success!

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

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.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

I'm doing the same thing. You don't need a heavy support on the top? You can use just a wire? I'm concerned about the grapes I'm training, that the heavy main branch might bend the support so much it would take the posts out of the ground. Will that happen also with the fruit trees if I don't put some type of heavy support on the very top?
Comment by Nayan Mon Aug 15 10:04:50 2016

Wow--never thought of espaliering even out in a field just to enable covering (easier picking too). Brilliant!!!

I'm also envisioning metal barrel on each flat side of the tree, lifted on a pile of rocks, with spaces to insert wood & start a fire. Then if it's a really cold night, heat the water during the day, before covering for the night. Effort, yes, but once set up, just leave the closed barrels. What do you think?

Comment by Terry Mon Aug 15 10:22:19 2016
I haven't yet done this, but I'd imagine that top support might be a good thing in case of high winds. Without the usual globe shape, I'd think winds could more easily take down branches.
Comment by Terry Mon Aug 15 15:25:46 2016

Thanks, everyone, for your comments! In relation to the top support, I don't think it should be necessary since these trees have a pretty sturdy root system. In fact, many of them are on MM111, which is a pretty big tree if left untrained. So they shouldn't act like grapes or other vines, which require support for their full lives. My training system is more of a guide for me to tie limbs to than a full-time support.

Of course, time will tell. I could be wrong....

Comment by anna Fri Aug 19 11:52:30 2016

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.