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Espaliers and cordons .

Updated: Oct 8, 2020


The technique involves using wire supports in order to help fruit trees or other plants expand in a particular manner that suits the design of your yard. Before beginning you should know that this type of growing a plant will take time; because of the horizontal planning instead of the vertical one, the rhythm is slower. But with patience come beautiful results.

Choose a location – preferably somewhere north-facing that gets a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight . Prepare the support, fixing horizontal wires to a structure that will support your espalier and train the branches at desired angles. Wires should be spaced 30 – 60cm apart, with eyebolts used on fences and walls to keep the tree away from the structure.

Plant your tree, set it in the ground about 30cm from the wall, fence or post structure. - one year old saplings are best ,and the ideal is that they should be unbranched. If only branched trees are available, retain the straightest leader and cut away the rest. After planting, the central leader is reduced to 5 cm below the first wire and when growth occurs, only the top 3 shoots should be allowed to grow. The top shoot is then tied to an upright cane that is secured to the wires. The 2 side shoots will become the 2 lowest branches. Tie side shoots to canes at an angle of about 45 so the laterals maintain their strength of growth while training is started.

( Fan Espalier training techniques For stone fruit, the central leader is cut out, leaving 2 vigorous side shoots which are trained outwards at 30 - 45 degree angles to encourage branching. As they fruit only on 1 year old wood, there must be a continual renewal of growth to carry fruit. Fruit the lateral one year, and after harvest shorten to a side shoot near the base.)

In late autumn remove the supporting canes and tie the branches to the horizontal wires. With the central stem again cut back to about 5 cm below the second wire to train the next tier. Continue every season until the tree reaches the top wire when you only retain 2 buds to tie down.

Once done , Your tree is ready to begin its training. Use soft garden twine to tie your branches to the wires - dont tie it super tight or you'll damage the branch , and eventually it will rot away on its own . For the first couple of years, while your fruit trees are getting established, remove some of the fruit before it gets much bigger than pea-sized which will help promote a higher quality for the remaining fruit. Almost any variety of apple, pear or fig is suitable for espalier. Stone fruit (peaches, plums and cherries) are best suited to the fan-shaped espalier as their more brittle wood is difficult to train on the horizontal lines.

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