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One of the concerns our customers share is the fruit tree they purchase will grow to a size that will be difficult to manage. Today we have many easy solutions to temper the concern.
The ultimate height of the fruit tree will dictate your spacing requirement. The great majority of our trees ultimate height will reach 12-16 ft. This is due to the rootstock the tree is grafted which helps to insure a healthy fruit tree. If you decide to only winter prune for corrective measures, 12-16 ft. would be adequate spacing. The trees can be spaced much closer if you decide to summer prune for height control. Previous generations pruned fruit trees in winter because it was the one farming activity available during the frozen weather. Once spring rolled around, the chores on the farm never allowed us time to prune our trees. So it was left for the winter, but today that routine has begun to shift. Simply summer prune when the trees grow taller than desired. We often summer prune lightly in July. Pruning in the winter will stimulate more growth, summer pruning reduces the vigor and keeps the trees manageable.
Espalier Fruit Trees: A Guide to Growing and Cultivating
Fruit trees have been an important part of human culture for thousands of years. Not only do they provide a delicious and healthy source of food, but they also add beauty and interest to gardens and orchards. One type of fruit tree that has gained popularity in recent years is the espalier fruit tree. In this article, we'll explore what espalier fruit trees are, how to grow and cultivate them, and why they make a great addition to any landscape.
What is an Espalier Fruit Tree?
An espalier fruit tree is a type of fruit tree that has been trained to grow flat against a wall, fence, or trellis. This type of tree is grown in a specific pattern, usually in a fan or candelabra shape, to maximize its exposure to sunlight and increase its fruit production. Espalier fruit trees are often used in small gardens, patios, and courtyards, where space is limited. Espaliers are ideal for small areas because the training allows the plant to receive maximum air and sun to the plant and the fruit is within easy grasp. Espalier is an ancient training technique developed by Egyptians. Espalier arose from practical concerns;in cooler climates many fruits were not able to ripen before the onset of winter. Apple trees and Pear trees benefited from the heat generated off south facing walls, which extended the growing season earlier in spring and later into fall. Medieval Europeans popularized espaliers in their gardens by growing many varieties in limited spaces. Espalier became an art form "botanical architecture". Gardeners began to create interesting two dimensional structures, or living fences.
How to Grow and Cultivate Espalier Fruit Trees
Growing and cultivating espalier fruit trees is a bit more complex than growing traditional fruit trees, but the results are well worth it. Here are some tips for growing and cultivating your own espalier fruit trees:
Choose the right location: Espalier fruit trees require plenty of sunlight, so choose a location that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. The wall, fence, or trellis that you choose to support your espalier fruit tree should be sturdy and in good condition, as it will need to support the weight of the tree and its fruit.
Select the right tree: Choose a fruit tree variety that is well-suited to your climate and growing conditions. Some popular espalier fruit tree varieties include apples, pears, peaches, and citrus trees.
Train the tree: Espalier fruit trees are trained by tying them to a support structure and pruning them in a specific pattern. This process takes time and patience, as the tree needs to be pruned and trained over several years before it reaches its desired shape.
Water and fertilize: Espalier fruit trees require regular watering and fertilization to maintain their health and produce fruit. Water the tree deeply once or twice a week, and fertilize it every few months to provide it with the nutrients it needs to grow and produce fruit.
Why Espalier Fruit Trees are a Great Addition to Any Landscape
Espalier fruit trees offer many benefits, both aesthetically and culinary. Here are some reasons why they make a great addition to any landscape:
They add visual interest: Espalier fruit trees are a unique and beautiful addition to any landscape, providing a visual interest that traditional fruit trees can't match.
They increase fruit production: Espalier fruit trees are trained to maximize their exposure to sunlight, which increases their fruit production and makes them more productive than traditional fruit trees.
They save space: Espalier fruit trees are perfect for small gardens and patios, where space is limited. They can be grown in a flat, compact shape that takes up very little space, making them a great choice for urban gardens and courtyards.
They are easy to maintain: Espalier fruit trees are easy to maintain, as they require regular pruning and training to maintain their shape. They are also easy to harvest, as the fruit is within reach and easy to pick.
Espalier fruit trees are a unique and beautiful addition to any landscape
The art of bonsai utilizing summer pruning to control the shape and size of the tree can be applied to fruit trees. Unlike Bonsai fruit trees are grown for fruit so they should be pruned to around 7-10 ft. Simply choose a size and don't let the tree get any bigger. Leave the winter pruning to corrective measures and summer prune for size control. Head back the new growth that has exceeded your preferred shape or size. That’s it! Small trees yield crops of manageable size and are much easier to thin, prune, net, and harvest than large trees. Reducing the canopy by pruning in the summer reduces photosynthesis, thereby reducing the capacity for new growth. Summer pruning also reduces the total amount of food materials and energy available to be stored in the root system in late summer and fall. This controls the vigor the following spring, since spring growth is supported primarily by stored foods and energy. And, obviously, pruning is easier (and more likely to get done) in nice weather than in winter. If trees are kept small, it is possible to plant a greater number of trees, affording the opportunity for more kinds of fruit and a longer fruit season.
Finally, planting three or four fruit trees in one hole is another example of high density fruit tree culture. (see image below).This allows you to have fruit throughout the season without surrendering the whole garden to fruit trees. Consider our Classic bundle offer. You can purchase six unique apple trees for the price of five, providing a myriad diversity of color and flavors, but you only sacrifice an area necessary for two trees. The method is straightforward: Plant the trees approximately 18” apart, leaning slightly outward with the inside limbs pruned away. Then, in the summer months to control the size of the trees, we recommend heading back some of the new growth. This will reduce the overall height of the trees.
Some apple trees fruit at the tips of their branches and are termed "tip–bearers" or "partial tip–bearers." These apple trees produce all or almost all of their fruit on the branch tips. Do not head back severely when pruning, as you will remove your crop. Tip-bearers are less productive than spur type trees. When growing tip-bearers as highly trained forms (i.e., espalier, fan, cordon), these should be summer pruned in the same way as all cultivars.
Example of planting three trees in one hole.