Tag Archives: espalier


How Do You Like Them Apples!

It’s time for an update on the apple espalier as the Fall season gets underway. As much as I hate to acknowledge there’s limited time to celebrate the last hurrahs of the growing season in my zone 6 garden I must start somewhere…and what could be better than starting with the Kings of Fall –Apples!

My post ‘Apple Espalier Makes the Day‘ talks about how to set up and manage an apple espalier but today’s post shows the amazing rewards of that effort.  Remember these images from May and the potential they promised…

Well, here it is…the promise developed into apple-icous loveliness.

I know I am over-excited about something as simple as apples but sometimes simple pleasures are the best right?

Here’s my Gala apple tree sporting 40+ beautiful apples in only its 2nd year.

Here’s my Fuji apple tree showing 70+ apples in its 3rd year.

The apples are the crown jewels of the edibles within my garden this year.  This is because they required very little maintenance, increased their production more than I care to figure out (we only had four last year) and taste amazing!  A+ for the apple espalier!

Galas' bathed in afternoon sun

Fujis' bathed in morning dew

For those of you that may have started your own apple espalier, (the apple espalier was one of my most popular posts) I want to mention I trimmed my espalier twice during the entire growing season. Once mid-summer and again a week ago. I also used disposable codling moth traps for use in organic gardens to know when codling moths were present.  The idea behind these traps is to identify when codling moths are present so that if you spray it is only at the time of moth activity.  However, due to trips and other distractions I only sprayed based on the trap results one time.  What did I spray?  A serum from my local garden store containing spinosad (the only active ingredient) which controls codling moth and is approved for USDA organic produce.  I am thrilled that I only used the spray one time and don’t have any loss from worms.

Friday “Top 10”

You know how things just kinda sneak up on you…like maybe a few too many trips to the ice cream store over the summer, a few too many pairs of cute flip-flops, or even a few too many 50% off annuals and discounted perennials.

Well, when you spend a few too many days out of the garden distracted with so many other fun summer activities the “Garden To Do” list sneaks up on you too!

So, I’ve made a list to help me stay focused on my “to-dos” and am calling it my Friday “Top 10”.

Yes, I know it’s pretty geeky to put your garden “To Do” list on your phone but if you could only see my handwriting (southpaw, taught to write several different ways during elementary years)  you would know why I have converted to using my phone for even simple things such as lists.  Plus, I don’t have to keep track of small pieces of paper….I know, I’m digressing.  Anyway, here’s a more legible version…

But before you take a scan of the list let me ask…Do you make garden “To Do” lists?  Do you have any of the same tasks as me?  Are you someone who is unsure of what should be done in your garden in July or someone who has it outlined ahead of time and already has most July tasks finished.  

If you have a minute share your thoughts on your garden “To Dos”.  The garden won’t mind waiting another minute!

My Friday “Top 10” 

1. Don’t buy anymore plants until I have all the ones I’ve already purchased planted!  (I sometimes get too many deals and then have to find a home for everything!)

2. In high heat water for TREES, not turf
(Meaning if you have heavy clay soil and run sprinklers, water two times a day for lesser amounts of time (maybe 10 minutes ) so the water can be absorbed  into the soil and taken by the tree.  Watering for long periods (30 minutes) everyday can cause the trees to drown (roots suffocate) because of the slow drainage of clay soil.  This is a leading cause of tree death in areas with heavy soil.)

3. On the water front make sure all automatic watering systems are functioning properly, increase water (by hand) for those things (raspberries) that need it

4. Fertilize veggies and container plantings with fish emulsion

5. Add water to compost bins, mix

6. Harvest, harvest, harvest last of cool season crops that are still producing small quantities

7. Trim tomatoes where needed to fuel energy into fruit, re-stake if necessary

8, Pick strawberries, trim runners to keep plants energy going into setting new blossoms instead of new plants

9. Trim apple espalier and check coddling moth traps to see if activity is present.  If so, spray with serum containing spinosad approved for USDA organic produce

10. Enjoy the things that are really working well in the garden and remember there’s always next year for the others…


Apple Espalier Makes The Day!

Another cool, blustery spring day makes one wonder when the “normal” temps are going to start for this year!  Many perennials are getting off to a slow start but the cool weather hasn’t hindered my apple espalier (pronounced es-PAL-yay) one bit.  The Fuji apple tree has doubled, maybe tripled its blossoms this year making a pledge to provide some tasty red jewels come Fall.

I hadn’t noticed the multitude of pink-fringed white fluffy blossoms on my Fuji tree but  today they were brilliant under the overcast sky.  I also have a Gala apple espalier and its blossoms are notable but not like the Fuji.  I suppose this is to be expected though as the Gala tree  is in its second growing season in my garden and the Fuji in its third.

I have always been fascinated with the art of espalier  – the ancient European method of growing a tree, shrub or vine on a flat plane.  I’ve always wanted to utilize it for growing fruit and last year ‘the builder’ and I constructed our first one.  We planted two cross pollinating apple trees (Fuji and Gala) in a sunny location just in front (six inches or so) of a very bland stretch of vinyl fence.  We (I mean, he) constructed a free-standing structure (primarily of pine logs, light-weight cable, turnbuckles and eye bolts) also in front of the fence and parallel with the trees.  We chose a simple espalier form (horizontal cordon) and started training the semi-dwarf trees along the structure in the desired design.

At first it looked a little strange as we had to “mold” the trees existing branches to the framework.  In fact, one visitor said, “What are you doing to those poor trees, they look crucified!”  But over the season the mature branches conformed to the pattern and we easily trained the new branches to become part of the design.

This year the apple espalier has become quite a focal point to this part of our outdoor area providing dimension and interest to an otherwise sanitary-looking, plain fence.  Yes, espalier does require some intermittent attention during the growing season, such as pruning to maintain the chosen framework, but it easy to tend and takes just a bit of time.  Plus, there’s the wonderful fruit to look forward to.  Last year we shared four apples but this year there’s potential for so many more…

If you have a small outdoor space, espalier is definitely the ideal way to grow fruit in your backyard.  Once mature, espalier trees can produce more fruit than traditionally grown trees and because they are less susceptible to breaking branches they have an incredible life span with some reports of trees being 150 years old and still producing fruit!

For home gardeners that want to grow fruit trees, I would say espalier is the best way and it can make your day!

How-to Espalier Videos:

Here are a couple of short videos on how to set up a structure to espalier a fruit tree and how and when to prune your espalier trees.

Building an Espalier

Pruning an Espalier

How-to Espalier Article:

In-depth article from Fine Gardening