4 May 2013, by gj
Not long ago we looked at the espalier method of growing fruit trees. The photo on that post was of a huge garden at Kylemore Abbey in Ireland. The trees were grown against a wall as a way of increasing how much heat they received.
But the espalier method, a simple pruning and staking technique, also serves well to save space.
Here is a picture taken by my friend Jack Goldfil of allotment plots in Paris:
You can see how the trees have been pruned, allowing only the side branches to grow. These are further controlled by tying them to wires running across the whole area. Even in a garden plot this size there can be fresh fruit.
Now of course our garden areas are much larger. Still, we like to get the most from the areas we have growing. An additional concern is the squirrel population that took ever single piece of fruit from our trees last year.
Every. Single. Piece.
So we moved a few of the trees that were only put in last year and purchased a few more.
What we now have are 8 semi-dwarf fruit trees, one dwarf almond tree, and 3 bush variety cherries in a bed about 22′ by 4′. Since everything was just planted this spring, we won’t prune until after the harvest.
We are also going to build a structure above to drape netting over, in an effort to keep the squirrels out.
Remember to never prune more than 1/3 of the tree branches at one time. We will prune some in the fall, and a little more in the spring, containing the area they take up.
You can also plant crops below, as pruned trees don’t cast much shade. This year we planted potatoes and covered them with straw, additionally cutting down on the need to weed.
One other thing to keep in mind is that some trees, pears for example, need more than one variety to produce fruit. You can purchase “2 in one” of “all in one” trees that have been grafted with another variety. Just be careful when you prune to keep some of each variety growing on your tree.
Here’s Jack’s gardening page:Jardiniers du 4ème, where she shares more of her beautiful photos.
You Can Grow That! is a monthly collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to encourage and help others learn to grow.
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