Tag Archives: fruit tree

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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…

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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

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Fun Friday! Out Looking at Trees to Fill the “Pit”


We have our very own “pit”  and it is in the middle of our back yard.  No, it’s not some fancy fire pit, it is the traditional pit as described by Webster – a cavity in the ground.   The “pit” is a new feature in our back area and the result of a large Pin Oak finally succumbing to death.  A slow process that we fought for three years, but in the end death prevailed.  My husband dug out the Pin Oak and we inherited the “pit.”

What to do, what to do, what to do with the “pit.”  My thoughts have been focused on planting a showcase, ornamental Cherry (Prunus) tree that would flower in the spring, provide shade in the summer and good red/orange/yellow color in the fall.  So today, I’m out browsing at some local nurseries to see what is available. I’m even visiting some wholesale nurseries thanks to a connection so I hope to see a good range of size, price and quality.

The spring blossoms alone make an ornamental Cherry tree worthy of any setting. My dilemma is what variety to choose? I am debating between prunus x yedoensis ‘ Yoshino’ and prunus serrulata ‘Kanzan’ sometimes spelled ‘Kwanzan.’  Both are suitable for my climate (Zone 6) as they do well in hardiness zones 5-8.  They like full sun and are not picky about the acidity or alkalinity of the soil as long as it is well-drained.   ‘ Yoshino’ and ‘Kanzan’ are the “stars” of the Washington D.C. Cherry festival – they were given to our country as a gift from Japan – and I like that tie with our history.

Cherry Trees around Tidal Basin

The Blossoms of Yoshino

Blossoms of Kanzan or Kwanzan

Back to the “pit” though, it was recently suggested to not plant a tree in it because the tree would block the view of some of the rest of the landscaping over time. And that got me to thinking… is there a better use for the “pit”?

I don’t think there is given its location –  not close to any current seating areas and somewhat in the middle of the backyard with no other structural elements around it.  However, I thought it best to poll all of you!  What are your suggestions for the pit and if you like the idea of the Cherry tree, which one?  ‘ Yoshino’ or ‘Kanzan.’   Share your thoughts on filling the “pit!”

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Ms. Elberta Peach Makes a Scene!

Ms. Elberta Peach made a scene!  She went all out garnering as much attention as possible in her surrounding neighborhood.  She started by unfurling her delicate rosy-pink blossoms all at once and then perfuming the vicinity with a scent as sweet as Chanel No. 5!  The neighbors, although they are few (Mr. Rhubarb, The Raspberry Clan and some new kids named Sugar, Snap and Peas), were stunned.  They didn’t dare challenge Ms. Elberta in all her glory.  They kindly obliged her need for compliment and Ms. Elberta has been carrying on with this show for days.  I swear she was thoroughly pleased when I strolled up with a lens in hand and I think I heard her whisper, “Now isn’t this just peachy keen!”

In case you are wondering, Ms. Elberta Peach is a newcomer to the northwestern corner of my garden.  I bought her last year from a small, nondescript nursery near my house for $20.  The 5′ tall tree came in a large (but liftable) black plastic pot.  I planted Ms. Elberta  last June in a semi wind-protected area, set up an automatic drip waterer and admired her deep green, elongated leaves.

I have not had a peach tree before so I was pleasantly surprised this spring when I realized the young tree had a healthy amount of blossoms ready to open.  The lovely fragrance is an additional bonus.  I might even hope for a peach or two! I’ll keep you posted…

Personal Stats of Ms. Elberta Peach

Botanical name: Prunus persica

 Zones: 5-9

Size: Semi-Dwarf

Mature Height: Around 10 feet

Mature Width: Around 10-12 feet

Fruit: Semi-dwarf Elberta produces the same size fruit as standard trees and does not need a pollinator.  It is self-fruitful and bears wonderful tasting peaches usually within 2-3 years.  Due to their three season interest and small size they can be an ideal addition to small spaces. Note: Even though self-pollinating, will produce more if two are planted. 

Ripening Date:  August-Early September

Sun Level:  Full Sun to Partial

Soil: Adaptable

Water: Once established, moderate

In case any of you are inspired by Ms. Elberta Peach I have included this video on how to plant a peach tree.  I found this video to be detailed and correct as far as the method I use for planting a fruit tree.

One step that I incorporate (that is not mentioned in the video) is to pour some mycorrhizal treatment over the rootball before planting.  The mycorrhizal fungi is a root stimulator and helps the tree take in more nutrients and moisture.  It can be found at most any nursery or garden store.  Otherwise, this video is great and I think you’ll enjoy a bit of humor too as the dog(s) can’t seem to stay out of the camera!