Tuesday, August 31, 2010


my first attempts at espalier action of fruit trees. a few broken branches - but hey they will grow back. i filled up the last holes in the regular orchard this spring and am now turning to the fence line - and espalier - for apples and pears.

only certain varieties of trees are suitable for espalier - those with long lived spurs or other fruit bearing wood which isnt renewed every year. like i said - apple and pears, good. cherries, yeah probably. nectarines and peaches - not so much.

so in went my first two asian pears. hosui (totally awesome - juicy, Bartlett type flavor and crunchy). and shinko (never tried one, but the description sounded great and i needed a pollinator).

even though its totally against my normal rules, i let one of them set fruit this year (usually wait at least 2 years for bare roots) and will see how it goes. i will also be grafting other varieties of pears to these trees.

espaliered apples will start next spring with about 4 varieties, that i will get from trees of antiquity - and the bar is thus for a tree to be accepted:

1. an uncommon variety that you cant find, possibly even at farmers markets

2. must be on old variety - early 1800's is the newest acceptable; preferably older - much older.

3. has a characteristic which makes it stand out. i.e. colored flesh, scent, others?

4. most likely not red skinned, i just have a thing against red skinned apples - probably from the hundreds of red delicious apples i threw out as a kid because they were pithy or other such reason.

as these espaliered trees mature and grow in number - i will begin to graft additional varieties to them to further increase my diversity. california rare fruit growers offers a scion exchange - usually in mid-january, where for a small fee you can buy cuttings suitable for grafting. grafting - i have done before - trained by my grandpa and had success, so i am looking forward to doing it again. the scion exchange is not well advertised, so listen to farmer freds show as he is usually the only way i hear about it also (sundays - 1530 am 830-10, 650 am 10-12). he's a hoot - you wont regret listening to our local radio gardener.

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