Friday, June 10, 2011

Espalier Fig II

Celeste fig espalier at the corner of my garden shed.
My Celeste fig espalier is now in it's second year of training and is beginning to look decent. I chose a Celeste fig for a few reasons. First, I had a few available whips to experiment with. Second, it is hardy in this region (7b) so I won't have to worry too much about frost damage. Third, it is productive and can withstand drought conditions once established. Fourth, it grows very quickly. And fifth, it is darn tasty.

I planted the tree a the southwest corner of my shed and started to guide it horizontally in each direction. I hadn't seen any espaliers growing on two different planes so I figured "What the heck, why not?" I selected the strongest shoots approximately 9" apart and encouraged them to grow vertically. I pinched off all undesirable growth elsewhere along the espalier. I screwed small metal eyes into the shed walls at even distances along the paths of the vertical growth. I tied each shoot to the eyes with plastic ribbon when they reached the appropriate height. You can see the metal guides in the first photo just above the top of each vertical branch.

Detailed picture of the right side of the fig espalier.
The second photo shows the right side of my espalier. You can clearly see each vertical growth that branches off the main arm of the tree. I accidentally broke off the end of the horizontal leader about 2 months ago so the plant has not extended as far to the right as I intended. I'm hoping it will regrow from that spot next season. Individual figs are now growing well just above each leaf. It remains to be seen whether or not the ants will use the espalier training posts as a super highway to sugary goodness later this summer. Regardless, my intent is to grow a unique looking espalier rather than to focus on heavy fruit production. Are any of you growing espaliers in your yards for decoration and/or fruit? If so, what types of trees are you using?


Anonymous said...

This is really informative: keep posting photos of the process please. I bought a fig this year and am still figuring out where I'll plant it and how I'll grow it. Good idea here. Thanks!

.09 Acres said...

Thanks for the comment. I definitely plan on posting more about this espalier as the seasons change. I usually grow my figs trees as multi-stem shrubs because it makes harvest easier and also because they are subjected to sub-freezing temps and therefore frost damage. This means the fig espalier could be set back or badly altered if there is a really long cold snap. I'm hoping the fact that it is protected by the garden shed and on a southwest corner will keep it protected over the years.

Erin said...

Just bought my first fig yesterday. I am interested in what you have to say about them. I'm working my way through your blog tonight.