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Thread: Training pear trees

  1. #9
    Kristen is offline Early Fruiter
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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskyman View Post
    I want to try some espalier trained trees. Want to use them to fence around my fruit patch. Not sure how many trees I need first but not prepared to pay the amount they asking in nurseries.
    I think that is false economy. Even if you get a tree from Poundstretchers that is labelled with variety / rootstock there are plenty of stories on the airwaves of such things being wrongly labelled - perhaps that is one of the reasons why Poundstretchers get to buy them as a job lot in the first place. It will be 2 or 3 years until you get fruit and know whether it is the taste that you want, or not, so to my mind too much time lost to then have to pull it out and start again.

    Apple trees cost about 15 each, you could easily be getting about that much fruit, in value, each year once the tree is fully grown (so after, say, 4 - 5 years)

    For me the important choice when I planted my Apple trees was varieties that we liked the taste of (we went to an Apple Day to compare & choose), that would grow well in our soil / location, and were on the right rootstock. I don't think any of the varieties we have are available in our local supermarkets ...

    I could try my hand at grafting?
    That is definitely a runner. Scion wood is readily available, mailorder. Dunno what price rootstocks are though, in small quantities, or whether you can strike those from cuttings / or grow from seed?
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  2. #10
    whiskyman is offline Seedling
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    I guess I'm too nervous to prune trees that costs that much, although you are right it would be wise to buy fruit that I would like.

  3. #11
    Kristen is offline Early Fruiter
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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskyman View Post
    I guess I'm too nervous to prune trees that costs that much
    Espalier? If so then: I've never pruned a fruit tree in my life (although I'm OK with Roses ), and when I decided to plant an Espalier I read a bit about it. It did sound complicated:

    1) Prune the leader at the first wire and then take three shoots, one up and two sideways at 45 degrees, and then those two should be bent down to the horizontal wire in the Autumn. Repeat at the second wire the second year and so on.

    I was pretty happy with that, just need to rock up once a year to do that bit ...

    2) Then there was the bit about summer and winter pruning, cutting things back to a specific number of buds, promoting fruiting rather than leafy growth and so on. It sounded daunting and rrequiring of a trained set of skills. I did it for the first time this summer, and actually once the time came (and having re-read the instructions ) it was easy and obvious when actually confronted with the bush - which was growing vertically from every possible spot along the branches I tied to the horizontal wire last Autumn.

    Here's one of the plants before I pruned it showing all the vertical growths off the horizontal, tied-in last Autumn:



    They aren't old enough to bare fruit yet, so I may be doing it all wrong but it was straightforward.

    Having said that, I was good at Chemistry experiments, and I cook recipes the same - to the letter and with no ingredients substitutions whatsoever! so that might be standing me in good stead.

    Only other point which bothered me was whether the Apple varieties I had chosen, for my Espalier, were Tip-bearers, or not, as that A) seemed to be crucial to success and B) all the websites I checked had the various varieties differently listed as Tip/Non-tip bearing, so I couldn't be sure. Then I read a site that said it didn't really matter than much, and pretty much any Apple could be grown Espalier, and if I wanted Variety-X then just plant it & train it. So I stopped worrying about that too.
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  4. #12
    whiskyman is offline Seedling
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    You say the leader, its the main trunk then? Daunting.

    I did see a youtube video where the gardener just kept his tree as he bought ir and pruned the branches he did not want. And just bend the branches he kept to the angles he wanted. I think the tree was one year old so the branches was flexible to bend.

    Thats my concern, if the tree is young enough and flexible does the leader need pruning? I only have two trees in my garden at the moment and don't think I have shoots that low down below the pruning.

  5. #13
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    Martin H is offline Early Fruiter
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    Winter pruning stimulates growth. That's why, when you are still growing the framework of branches of an espalier, you chop off the leader at the next wire and train the top three shoots. Until you get to the top, when you only need two shoots.

    Summer pruning slows down the tree and encourages fruiting spurs to form. That's why, once you have your framework, you only prune in summer. The basic rules are simple: shoots off the main branches are cut down to about 3 leaves, shoots off those side-shoots are cut down to 1 leaf.

    The principles are the same for any shape of trained tree: winter prune to encourage growth where you want it, tie stuff in to the right shape in summer, summer prune out everything that you don't need.

    My own espaliers have come along nicely doing this, but a real expert will probably be along shortly.
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  6. #14
    Kristen is offline Early Fruiter
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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskyman View Post
    You say the leader, its the main trunk then? Daunting.
    I think that if you don't chop off the leader then it will grow on strongly and any suitable branches at the right height to train sideways will grow weakly - the plant will be reaching for the sky instead. My plants have grown comfortably more than "one more wire taller" each year, so if I did not chop the leader off they would just race on upwards. Other problem is that you may not have branches at the right point, adjacent to the next wire, at all; whereas when you chop the leader off the buds immediately below it "break" and you then have a choice of top growth from which to choose the best for the new "leader" and a suitable pair for left-and-right wires (and they are grown at 45 degrees for the first year, to encourage them to extend, then tied down horizontal that winter which then slows down the growth and encourages them to concentrate on fruiting, rather than growing, in subsequent seasons.

    The leader re-grows so vigorously, after chopping-off, that you don't need to worry about whether it will, or not. In fact I figured that if I messed up a tier one year - perhaps a critical branch broke off and left me with a "gap" - I would just prune the plant back to the wire below and then retrain that tier the following year. I would lose a year, over all, but the plant would have established more roots etc. in that year and would be getting stronger as a result, anyway.
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  7. #15
    whiskyman is offline Seedling
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    I'm going to take the plunge.

    Any tasty varieties suggestions?

    I may even prune the Worcester Pearmain I have in the garden.

  8. #16
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    Norfolkgrey is offline Mature Fruiter
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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskyman View Post
    I'm going to take the plunge.

    Any tasty varieties suggestions?

    I may even prune the Worcester Pearmain I have in the garden.
    No suggestions I am afraid as it really depends on what and when you want to use and your taste preference. However, I do suggest you get enough varieties to allow for pollination, hence a decent crop.

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