With less room in modern gardens, many gardeners are looking for ways to save space but still grow plants, especially food plants.
One solution Josh uses is to grow fruit trees espaliered against a number of fences at his house. The trees are planted close to the fence and pruned into a two-dimensional ‘flat’ shape along the fenceline, with side branches trained along horizontal supports.
00:31 | Josh adds a new peach tree to his garden to show how it’s done.
What you need:
A fruit tree (see below)
A garden bed against a sunny wall or fence
Trellising on the wall or fence – Josh has installed metal poles but you can use heavy-gauge wire or timber.
What you do:
Choose a tree that will suit your location; Josh has chosen a Peach ‘Flordagold’, which is a low-chill variety, meaning it doesn’t need many hours at low temperatures to produce fruit, so it is suitable for Perth’s warm, Mediterranean climate.
If you have a choice of trees, look for a suitable shape. Josh’s young tree has a good strong leader branch (upright) and two strong side branches that will form the basis of the first tier of trellising. He prunes off the smaller branches underneath, removing any young fruit and rubbing off any shooting buds from the main trunk.
Prepare the space: Josh has cleared a 1.5-2m section of the border below a north-facing fence and digs a hole the same depth as the pot and twice as wide.
Check the rootball to make sure the roots aren’t girdled or potbound – if they are, it’s good to trim these back.
Position the tree so that the side branches will easily be trained against the fence, then backfill the hole. Josh uses a mixture of the existing soil combined with compost. Top dress with fertiliser – Josh sprinkles on a handful of pelletised chicken manure and rock minerals – and water the plant in well. Josh uses diluted seaweed solution to help reduce transplant shock.
It’s a good idea to start training your branches into shape while they are still young and flexible. To do this, Josh creates a cross-shaped support with two stakes behind a central, upright stake, binds them together then loosely ties the respective branches to each stake. As they grow, they can later be attached to the trellising, which is higher along Josh’s fenceline. However, they could be tied directly to horizontal trellising if it’s available.
Peach ‘Flordagold’ (Prunus persica cv.)
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