support systems for cordon and espalier apple trees
Hi all, me again! :-)
In a previous thread I sought your infinite wisdom on choosing suitable apple varieties and rootstocks for growing a set of cordons and an espalier. I ended up buying five maidens on M26 stock for training as cordons and one on MM106 for training as an espalier. I ordered said trees for Deacon's Nursery (at very reasonable prices, may I add :-) ) and they have arrived and are sat in the back of my garage waiting to plant.
My soil is a thin, 10cm-ish, top soil on top of chalk and then flint. Based on advice from a couple of nursery's I therefore dug a 5m trench with a 2x2ft square section for the cordons and replaced the 'subsoil' with garden compost, partially decomposed turf 'clods' and any other organic matter I could find. Now I need to introduce a suitable support system. My plan was to base it on 3 regular, maybe 3inch, 8ft chestnut stakes. After 'compacting the soil (via walking on wooden planks) I was going to dig 2ft deep holes for the posts and then to place the stakes in the hole and surround them with 20mm gravel - to act as a form of non-permanent concrete. I'll then run 3 lengths of 2.5mm garden wire across the posts 30cm, 90cm and 150cm above the ground respectively, possibly using turnbuckles if I can't get adequate tension (although I can't imagine needing too much tension?). Does all these sound reasonable?
Also, I've heard that trusses may be useful, but it sounds like they would be most valuable when some form of concrete base isn't used. Plus I wonder whether my 5m run would necessitate such reinforcement. I found a valuable resource on fitting the trusses but I don't need them, the reduced effort and cost would be welcomed; but then again I don't want to subscribe to a false economy..
When I get my cordons in, I then need to move on to my espalier. I'm planning on digging a hole 3x2x2ft (WxDxH) for this and filling it with similar content. I have plenty of well-rotted manure, so I may use this. My main question regarding this, again, is the nature of the support I need to use. I imagine I only need 2 posts, but how should I bed them in and do I need struts. Your feedback would be appreciated on this.
Lots of questions, I know, but ANY help that anyone can provide would be hugely appreciated!! My body is reeling from the trench digging but I feel I'm on the home straight :-)