Sunday, August 16, 2015

Training My Fruit Trees

This year I planted three fruit trees in my Rock Wall garden. The plum above is a 2-in-1 tree with one side being Shiro and one being Redheart. The tree will get about 12'-15' tall. Which is about 6' taller than what I really want. So I'm trying to train it smaller. Since the tree is in the rock wall garden next to the fence and driveway, I have to keep the tree fairly linear so it doesn't interfere with the cars. I kept the best two branches and let them grow. They really wanted to grow straight up. So a week ago I started to train them to come down a bit. I want a bigger V than I have right now, but I'll be working on it over the next month. I want to encourage the tree to grow sideways and not up as much as it wants. I'll see if I can make it do what I want.

The other tree I'm training the same way is my Ichi persimmon. It only gets about 8'-10' tall. so I think it will be easier to train to being shorter. It arrived much smaller than the plum tree and has grown pretty slowly. I cut the top off a while ago to get two opposing branches. Today I figured they were big enough to start training.

I don't tie the string directly around the branches as it would scrape off the bark. I use whatever is available. For the plum tree I used my favorite, which is some old hose that has been cut up. I put the string through the hose and it keeps the bark spotless. I didn't have any more of that old hose, so for the persimmon I used some old Agribon row cover that I cut up. I think it will be gentle enough on the branches.

I had an issue with the plum tree after I started training it. We had a wind storm and the string snapped. I just use jute. But the jute I have is old. I bought a HUGE spool of it about 4 years ago. It is almost gone, and I left it out in the rain this summer. I tried to dry it out but it is just not the same. Jute rots with the moisture and it is hard to dry the string out in the middle of the spool. I can use it for things like my cucumbers that just need a little help, but I needed a new spool for things that had stress on them.

So I bought my second HUGE spool of string. Since I don't make as many trellises as I used to since I barely grow pole beans anymore I'm guessing this should last me about ten years. But I'd better not bring it outside to forget about it and get it wet. I'll make smaller balls out of it and bring those out. "Oooh shiney" is a big problem for me in the garden. I get distracted way too easily.


  1. I love string like that because it is soft, blends in to the garden (is unobtrusive), and it does break down eventually. better than plastic ties I think.
    great to see your tying down work - very nifty.

  2. That is one BIG ball of jute. I am paying close attention to how you train your trees. I'm hoping to get one or two trees to grow along the west wall of our house where it gets nice and warm against the brick. I'll have to espalier them so as not to block our access to the backyard.

    Yeah, I have a bit of a tendency to get distracted in the backyard as well - I go out to check something for a minute and I end up spending 20 minutes outside and the pot of water on the stove boils dry.