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Thread: Cordon Fruit Trees

  1. #1
    vicpivo's Avatar
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    Default Cordon Fruit Trees

    Hi All,

    I am still a novice on gardening and I've decided to go away from my comfort zone of veggies and look at fruit trees.

    My garden is quite small and I like the idea of "cordon" fruit trees to maximise space - not fussed what fruit (but understand stuff with pips is better that fruit with stones!).

    It may sound silly, but is it a particular variety of fruit tree or can all fruit trees be 'trained' to grow along a wall/fence?

    My wall is 5 foot high and I would like to extend the frame/cordon to circa six foot high.....

    Would this be possible? Any ideas, experiences or suggestions would be gratefully received!!

    Thanks

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    Apples are the best option for cordons, fans or espaliers. They ar more tolerant of the close pruning required.
    Pears can be OK too, but they generally lack canker resistance, which can be an opportunist in pruning cuts.
    Plums and cherries don't really like much pruning and are at considerable risk of serious silver leaf infections when they are pruned.

    Bear in mind that the popular varieties of apple found on supermarket shelves are generally difficult to keep healthy when you try to grow them without spraying.
    Some varieties of apple (e.g. Bramley and many other "triploids") are difficult to grow in restricted spaces on account of the way that they reluctantly form fruit spurs, flower buds or side branches and/or their extreme production of growth hormone that tends to override the usually-dwarfing rootstocks.

    For cordons, the apple rootstock M9 or M26 is common, although MM106 can be used for slower-growing varieties or poor soils.
    For fans or espaliers, MM106 is common, although M26 can be used for small espalier/fan, or on good soil, while MM111 or even M25 can be used for larger fan/espalier, or for poor soil.

    Apples with good performance in a no-spray environment, and which will be easy to manage as a restricted form include:

    Brownlees Russet
    Crawley Beauty
    Egremont Russet
    Grenadier
    Reverend Wilks
    Winston

    Annie Elizabeth, Lord Derby and Belle de Boskoop are also good varieties, but may become slightly larger than the above.

    There are probably other varieties that would do well in your area.

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    Cheers FB - this is really useful!

    I've decided on the Winston as I fancy having a dessert apple and it will be more appealing to the kids. The fruit is fairly disease free and stores for upto 3 mths.

    Off to the DIY store to get the meterials for my espalier!

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    six months later...I have my materials and trees h been in situ (but in a pot) for 5 months.

    However the ground is 90% clay and permanently waterlogged. I would like to keep it in a pot, but not restrict growth too much. What would you recommend as a suitable sized pot to grow my apple trees to circa 6 ft high (and as wide as poss!)

    I've been looking at the half oak barrels - roughly 28" diameter. Is this big enough?


    Thanks

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    Garden centres can grow young fruits trees to a height/spread of 4-5ft in a pot that is only a foot across.
    I would think that 28" barrels would be fine.

    Have you considered planting the trees on mounds to improve drainage, or digging some sand into the clay soil to help the water drain faster?

    Which rootstock and variety did you choose?
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    Hi FB - I followd your advice for 6 months ago to the letter.....

    Annie Elizabeth MM106 & Winston M26.

    The Winston is showing a lot more signs of life currently. I hope the Annie will catch up!

    The whole garden was like a swamp until Sept last year..I landscaped the garden a dug out tonnes of Clay and replaced it with soakaways and porus plastic drain tubes I then added five tonnes of sharp sand and 3 tonnes of top soil. Unfortunately the area where the trees are is currently is under paving slabs so I didn't dig this area up.

    Knowing what the other areas of the garden was like - I don't believe I have any option other than putting them in pots! I can't face further landscaping!

  7. #7
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    FB - after all your help, you need to travel to sunny Wales and examine my work following your advice!

    You are a godsend!

    I've found barrels locally for sale measuring 25" across the top and standing 28" high. The price is great but would it be suitable?
    Last edited by vicpivo; 06-04-2011 at 10:48 PM.

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    Those barrels should be OK.
    Adjust the soil/compost mixture in the pots according to how well they're growing.

    In your tubs, I'd be tempted to use some of your local clay soil mixed with an equal amount of compost. The biggest problem with container-grown plants is drying out in summer. If your soil holds moisture well and doesn't drain quickly, it could be ideal for reducing the amount that you have to water the potted trees.
    MM106 can be troubled by excessive watering - it can get cankers and crown rots if too much water comes in contact with the base of the trunk on a regular basis (especially if it is "stagnant" water from water butts; better to use "clean" tap water for MM106 in pots if you can't avoid splashing the base of the trunk). M26 seems to be quite resistant to cankers and crown rots.

    Annie and Winston both have above-average resistance to diseases, so they ought to do fairly well in your climate. They are both attractive in their growth habit, blossom and are quite compact growers, although are capable of growing to quite a good size eventually, if left unpruned.
    If they grow too slowly, add a handful of growmore and a compost mulch. If they grow too quickly, prune in July and use a fish blood and bone fertiliser (less nitrogen means less growth and more fruit).

    In waterlogged soil, M26 would probably hold up better than average, while MM106 would quickly succumb to root rots. If the soil is as saturated as you say, then either pots or a mound.
    Last edited by FB.; 07-04-2011 at 08:30 AM.

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