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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saving Space in a Small Backyard With Multiple Trees in a Hole

Q. I'm going to see if I can do a multi-tree planting (three peaches in one hole) and espalier some along a south-facing wall.  Then again, now that I've seen some more of Dave Wilson's photos (http://www.davewilson.com/homegrown/BOCpix/espalier.html ) for espalier examples, I don't think I have the space to plant three trees in one hole. That seems to be for more open areas. Perhaps best to plant three different types of fruit trees that bear fruit at different times over the summer so we'll always have something
Three trees planted in one hole, the third year and before summer pruning.
Anyway, can you recommend any places where I can order small quantities of fruit trees? Shipping with Peaceful Valley (I ordered two bare roots last year and they didn't make it through the summer) puts them in the same price range as buying locally, where's there's less selection.

A. I want to handle one point at a time. The space needed for two, three, four or more trees planted in the same hole is about the same space required for one of these trees alone. The size can be kept to about a diameter of eight feet or possibly a bit less with aggressive winter and summer pruning. On apples it will require that they are on a semi-dwarfing rootstock such as M111.

            Pruning to maintain multiple trees in a single hole is aggressive and relies on the horticulturist doing the pruning to maintain separate spaces for each tree and that the trees are not allowed to invade or in any other way dominate the space allotted. This also requires that you select trees which have similar vigor to place in the same hole.

Three trees planted in one hole after summer pruning. All three trees are
given enough room to not interfere with each other.
            One of the biggest threats to espalier training (trellising) of fruit trees in our climate is sunburn from our intense sunlight and the number of cloud-free days. I have had problems with espalier trained fruit trees with direct southern or western exposure to the intense sunlight if not given some protection.

            Be careful with these types of exposures. It is important to provide enough canopy cover to reduce the sunlight on the load bearing branches (stems tied to the trellising) but still keep it restrained. In my opinion this must include the possibility of pruning during any month of the year.

Apple trellised about a foot AWAY from a century fence. It is NOT
trellised on the fence.
            Pruning during different months causes different results in the trees. Winter or dormant pruning is the most invigorating for trees while summer pruning (late March or early April removal of new growth) is the most devigorating.

            I would try to sites for ordering trees online; Bay Laurel Nursery and Grow Organic (which I think is Peaceful Valley but not sure) and yes with shipping is a similar price range.

            In past years Plant World has carried Dave Wilson trees but usually not until about April or so because a middleman must containerize/establish them since Dave Wilson only ships bare root trees.

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