Friday, March 4, 2011

The New Additions: Orchard Espaliers

During the last week, the orchard portion of the Mighty Kitchen Garden has more than doubled! I've been planning and researching these plants for quite a while and I'm so excited to actually see them in the ground. The new additions cover a wide variety from exotic to standard. This installment of the introductions will focus on the espaliers.

The MKG is rather big for a garden and quite small for an orchard. Accordingly, I was very keen to select some trees that can produce fruit in a small space. Enter the espalier.

"Espalier" is a term that basically means to train a tree or vine so that it grows in a single plane. For example, training a tree to grow flat against a fence or wall. This method of growing is ideal for fitting trees into small or narrow yards. It is also a great option for fitting in more varieties of fruit. Enter the 6-in-1 espalier.

With a 6-in-1 tree, you literally have one main trunk with 6 different varieties grafted onto it. The six branches you see in the picture below will each produce a different type of apple! How cool is that?

The MKG is now home to two 6-in-1 espaliered fruit trees. One is an apple and features Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, Gravenstein, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious. The other is a pear and features Bosc, Comice, D'Anjou, Bartlett, Red Bartlett and Flemish Beauty.

In addition to looking great and fitting a lot of fruit into a small space, the 6-in-1 espalier also extends the harvest. Each of the six varieties will ripen at a slightly different time, creating a living parade of apples and pears. I can't wait to try them all and determine which harvest window produces the best combination for apple pie!

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