Matthew Nistico wrote:@Eric - You're absolutely right about the plums: the first year they grew great 6' long whips of branches! As for your comment on the apples - "they could probably use some support or they may start breaking off after year 5" - what manner of support? How should I engineer this?
If you keep plum growth long, just remove fruits on the branch ends until they thicken up.
Most any support is ok for BUD9 apples a few ideas (my favorite first):
- A support tree a few feet away like locust or alder - train a few support branches 6-8 feet high to tie on apple branches
- The side of a building
- a solid support post drive in the ground with a horizontal member 6-8 feet high
- drive some 2x4 into the ground to extend 4-6 feet - tie a single branch to the top of each in a good place to support weight (2/3 of the way to the tip)
- some thin support posts (T-posts and such) driven around with some 1/8" cable as a support
- Just leave them hanging, and nature will choose which need to be shorter
Matthew Nistico wrote:@Greg - I am not growing in orchard rows, but rather a hodgepodge of different species all crammed irregularly into a small, roughly rectangular space. I would say a tape pulled from one trunk to the nearest adjacent trunk would measure out 15' (about 5 meters) on average. 12' minimum, 20' maximum. Again, these are rough figures. I'm not using machines or vehicles of any type, and I've purposely avoided planting in anything like a straight row in favor of a more informal aesthetic. Oh, I should mention that the average space between trees I've just quoted is from one fruit tree to another. In between I often have support trees (black locust, a N-fixer) planted, but I plan on keeping those smaller through coppicing. In time, if I find an area becoming too congested, I will remove the black locust to open up the pathway between production trees. And yes, nearly all of my trees are already in the ground.
Good point about the fact that I could recreate a central leader with some work in the future if I change my mind down the road.
@Tim - Thanks for your words of encouragement! I am already feeling better about this operation. It is good to know that my trees will be forgiving of my decisions now, for better or for worse. Please examine the photo of an old, open-center apple tree. Is this something like what you meant by "umbrella shape"?
Tim Flaus wrote:Trees like to send up a central leader. So you will notice the tendencies to throw up suckers. Just keep cutting them or rubbing them off. Have you thought about expaliering your trees.