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New fan trained espalier apple tree - complete noobie, help needed please

hello all,

I have moved into a new build property and had promised myself I would plant espalier fruit trees against the wall

I have recently bought and dug in a fan trained John grieves (I think) apple tree, I don’t know how old it is or anything about it. I can see three arms each side. Does this signify Age?

at the moment it is just resting against the wall, then we had the horrible cold weather, and now we’re heading back to Spring so I hope it is still ‘alive’.

I need to start thinking about attaching it properly to the wall, and I don’t know where to start. So this is my main question really. Plus anything else you can tell me or send me to read would be graciously grateful. I’m a complete dunce. I bought a beautiful fern plant last week, it was so soft and feathery and it lasted a week in the kitchen before it shrivelled up and died. Gutted I was. 

Can anyone one tell me how many years it might be before it starts to produce fruit too please? My husband and 7 yr old are pretty much expecting cider this summer! Hmm...

I look forward to talking to you all, Sandra x 



  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    edited March 2018
    there's quite a lot of resources out there (including this great forum)
    this Forum
    and there are also hundreds of 'how to' videos on You Tube.

    I hope that is an initial help to get a bit of a sense of the questions.

    Best wishes
  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,553
    I would really recommend that you buy a copy of Harry Baker’s book “Growing Fruit”, now possibly out of print but available on ebay and such. 

    For “a dunce” you have picked a very complicated aspect of gardening, namely fruit tree growing and training. There are many many things you need to learn along the way, not least the terms that are used to describe different parts of a fruit tree.

    Harry Baker’s book is ideal because it speaks in plain language and you can carry it into the garden with you and read it as you try to make sense of what you are looking at.

    Here is a sample page, where he describes planting an “unfeathered maiden” tree, that is a one year old tree with only one vertical stem and no side shoots. He shows you how to prune and train that immature form into the beginnings of an espalier. At the end of the second page, he says “the next years are a repetition of the first”. And so they are, but with the slight difficulty of having a more complex form to prune and train.

    James Grieve is an excellent cooking apple, suitable for northern weather where a late frost may come along and try to kill all your fruit buds. I had one until it fell foul of canker and I had to remove it. I never tried to juice it but it is a typical cooking apple flavour and texture.

    if you are planting the tree from a pot this year, I wouldn’t let it produce any fruit this summer. Give it a year to find its feet and it will thank you next year.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • Bms_nhsBms_nhs Posts: 9
    Hello both of you,  Thanks every so much for taking the time to reply to me. 

    That book looks amazing! I have been reading various websites, but I think I struggle with understanding the terminology, and putting it into context with my tree. 

    Typical me go for the hardest job!

    Thanks again
  • Bms_nhsBms_nhs Posts: 9
    Wow I found the book on Amazon for a penny, so Ive ordered it. thanks
  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,553
    You won’t regret spending that penny.🙂
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • Bms_nhsBms_nhs Posts: 9
    This is what I have. 
  • Bms_nhsBms_nhs Posts: 9
    pansyface said:
    You won’t regret spending that penny.🙂
    I absolutely believe you :) 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 82,740
    A lovely tree  :D  I love trained fruit trees ... one of the first things we did when we moved here was to plant a Concorde pear next to the terrace and we're growing it as an espalier like a fence alongside the area where we heat our meals in the summer.   We had our first real crop of fruit last year five years after we planted it (we only let it produce one the first time it cropped the year before). 

    Can I suggest that you remove the turf from around the tree ... it's much better to leave it with bare soil for a circle about a metre in diameter ... otherwise the grass will compete for moisture and nutrition with the roots of the apple tree, and you will be prevented from feeding/watering/mulching properly.  This is particularly important for your tree as it is by a wall which is usually a dry spot ... not only can wall foundations act as a sponge and soak up the moisture, but there is an effect called 'rain shadow' explained here
     "Drought: Walls keep off rain causing a mini-rainshadow up to a metre (yard) wide from the base of the wall. In this zone the soil will be particularly dry and plants may fail to thrive unless watered..."
    extract from 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • AlchemistAlchemist Posts: 267
    You have some great advice there. Just be careful when removing those bamboo canes, else you may end up snapping them the way I did last year (only partially and now healed with duck tape and scaffolding). It’s hard to realise where the stain is transferred from one end to another with this many ties.

    Also Dove, is it usual for concorde to take 5 years to fruit? Asking as I have one on quince- A and my neighbours conference from a super market fruited an year after planting. 

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 82,740
    edited March 2018
    Because my Concorde was being trained from scratch as an espalier - it was a whip when we planted it - we removed all fruit when it first produced ... we only allowed it to bear fruit once all three tiers of the structure were established so it could concentrate all its energy into growth. We were well rewarded 

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

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