Ever since I started gardening years ago I always wanted to grow apple trees, but living in town on a small lot it always seemed impossible to have enough room to grow apples. Then one day my wife stumbled onto an article in a magazine about espalier and this got us thinking, maybe we can grow apple trees in our backyard.
Espalier is the art of pruning and training trees (in this case apple trees) to grow flat against a wall or support. According to many sources it has been practiced in Europe for hundreds of years. The espalier technique allows for the growing of fruit trees in a compact area, such as small backyard. If you do a Google image search on “espalier” you will see various espalier patterns and examples. Click here to see a PDF file of various espalier patterns.
This year we decided to give the espalier technique a try with four apple trees. I am going to break the process down into several parts to keep the posts shorter. In the future you can reference the category “Espalier” for a list of all the posts.
To keep things simple we chose to do a three-tiered cordon pattern. In order to support the trees we decided to build a trellis along a chain-link fence on the west side of the property. It should take about three years to complete the training of the trees.
The four semi-dwarf varieties of apples we chose for our espalier project are the Summer Rambo, Liberty, Honeycrisp, and Fuji. Before selecting apple trees make sure to reference an apple pollination chart to make sure the varieties you have selected will properly pollinate.
This should be a really interesting project, I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
The next post; Part II: The Trellis