Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTOS! Andrea’s espalier in Idaho

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Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Andrea Niederer

Today’s photos are from Andrea Niederer near Boise, Idaho.

Andrea says, “I live in the Intermountain West, near Boise, Idaho, in USDA Hardiness Zone 6. We have lots of sun and cool nights so plants, especially fruit and veggies, like to grow here. As long as you water them!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Andrea Niederer

“This is my apple espalier that I started just two years ago. There is a Fuji apple on the right and a Gala on the left, cross-pollinators.  This is a great way to hide and soften an ugly white vinyl fence, plus boost productivity of your yard. The first year the trees produced 4 apples total. The second year (2011) the trees produced 110 apples.  Amazing and beautiful!”

It is, Andrea! Thanks for sharing. Hey–Andrea has a blog! Read it here:

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Andrea Niederer
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Andrea Niederer
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Andrea Niederer
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Andrea Niederer

OK, so I’m finally back from my long birthday weekend…and life at 40 seems just like life at 39 (cat’s out of the bag–yup, 40)! Thanks to everyone for the wonderful birthday wishes!! I was checking in for the last few days on the comments, and I have to say that I am still giggling over cwheat000’s comment that Tractor1 is the Simon Cowell of the GPOD! We all love you, Sheldon!  Keep on telling us how it is.
One other thing–thanks SO MUCH for all of the garden tips you’ve all been sending me! It’s always been a struggle to come up with enough good tips for an issue, and you guys made it a BREEZE. I’ll be pestering you again in another couple of months, but for now I am soooo grateful.

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  1. ncgardener 02/01/2012

    I love it! The yards in modern housing is so small and this looks like a great way to squeeze in a few fruit trees and make a statement at the same time. Thanks for sharing.

  2. dukeofargy 02/01/2012

    Beautiful. I love the way you've incorporated your wall to give you a more formal look with the espalier. It reminds me of the fabulous gardens in Europe. This will make your gathering of your fruit so much easier.

    I love it.

  3. Steepdrive 02/01/2012

    Incredible! Amazing what you can do to a plant and still have it grow.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 02/01/2012

    What an amazing increase in productivity from year 1 to year 2! I would like Andrea to step back in and tell us how she prepared her planting holes...any special additions of compost? And does she do extra fertilizing? The apples from year 2 look large and luscious. Great project!

  5. terieLR 02/01/2012

    WoWsie! Will you have to keep this dramatically pruned now that it shows enormous growth in such a short time? Two of my favorite apples... mixed with grannies- I can smell the pie ;)

  6. andreabn 02/01/2012

    Hi there! This espalier was the darling of my garden last year. With regard to pruning this style of growing doesn't really require all that much and everything is in easy reach. That is a true benefit of espalier - pruning requirements and the fruit are all in reach! I prune in the early spring while the trees are still dormant. Then I usually do two more prunings, one heavy, one light, (late June, Sept.) to keep the shape of the espalier. The pruning is quite simple and doesn't take much time at all.

  7. andreabn 02/01/2012

    Hi! O.K. for preparing the holes of these apple trees I followed the general rule of 1x deeper than root ball and 2x wider than root ball. I then amended all of my soil with lots and lots of organic compost and peat moss. Each spring I mix in a few inches of organic compost to the tops of the planting holes and each fall I mulch with a fine forest-style mulch. I have not done any extra fertilizing at this point. To me, the main reason for so much change in production from the first year to the second was having many, many more blooms that the bees could pollinate and then turn to fruit. Everything I have read about fruit growing says a fruit tree must be in its locations for 2-3 years before it will produce abundandtly. Espalier growing is really fun, try it if interested in fruit.

  8. schatzi 02/01/2012

    Hi Michelle. 40 is good. You have a long way to go yet! I am a 73 yr old gardener and my husband is an 83 yr old roller skater!! He skates the gold dances and is a speed skating referee - keeps him young and in shape! So you see, just keep busy doing what you like and it will all be good. Btw, our 50th wedding anniversary is May 26th! Where did the time go?
    Our recent snow and ice storm destroyed our beautiful 30 ft Larch and trashed most of my dozen lilacs, but they should come back from the roots. We will have to grow another Larch. We like them. It's a pretty tree. Also split the top of my crab apple. I'll have to tape it back together and see what happens. The rest of the broken branches are in the woods where we can ignore them.

  9. pattyspencer 02/01/2012

    Holy Moley - going from 4 to 110 apples in 2 years. Those trees must be super happy in your yard. Love the idea and would consider doing this but - wow - what would I do with 110 apples? lol (yes I know - donate them - or bake)

  10. andreabn 02/01/2012

    Hi Patty, I was kinda of thinking that same way at first but it actually worked out just great to have the Fujis - which are mostly eaten fresh and the Galas for baking. One good pie takes at least 9-10 homegrown apples as they are medium in size. Also, I found the Fujis kept on the tree for a long time so I didn't have to go pick them all at once. The Galas were different in that they started to split at the top of the apples so I picked them all at one time. Fortunately apples can be stored for a pretty long time in a cool dark place as long as their are no open wounds or anything to decay. Besides all of two daughters and husband loved eating one right off the tree almost daily!

  11. tractor1 02/02/2012

    Very neatly done! I tried espalier with pyracantha thinking the thorns would deter the deer, no such luck, they somehow managed to nip off all the leaves while avoiding the thorns. Fruit tree crop size is mostly determined by weather; has to do with blossoms being fertilized in a timely fashion. Many times the pollinators don't blossom during the same time and also when the insects are buzzing... everything needs to fall into place timewise with temperature being the trigger. Today in the Catskills the temperature reached 60 degrees, not good because if temperaturs stay there for a few days buds will begin to open. Then when the frost returns the blossom buds will be damaged. With fruit trees it's actually best not to fertilize heavily, you don't want them to grow too quickly at the transition from winter to spring. I don't fertilize my fruit trees, the birds and other critters do that chore. If you want larger apples early on when the fruit is the size of a marble pinch off every other one and any that look misshapen/damaged, that's what's done at commercial orchards. From two espaliered apple trees I wouldn't cook any, perfect apples are best eaten out of hand or make wonderful gifts. For cooking go to an orchard and buy a bushel of drops for cheap. The best most appley flavored apple pie is made with dehydrated apples.

    Apple Pie Filling from Dehydrated Apples

    The nicest apple pies I've ever made were where the filling was prepared from dried (dehydrated) apples, the apple flavor is more intense and the texture less mushy; obviously there is less work and no waste. Dried apples are easily available from stupidmarkets at reasonable prices especially from markets that sell bulk and from so-called health food shops. And of course there are no storage problems with dehydrated fruits, they last about forever.

    One pound of dehydated apples equals approximately ten pounds of fresh. To one pound of dehydrated apples add 2 quarts of water and *slowly* bring to a gentle boil, stir occasionally and cook 5 minutes, covered. Turn off heat and let rest, covered, till room temperature.

    Make a slurry of cornstarch and cold water; bring apples back to boil and add cornstarch mixture and cook until thick and clear. Turn off heat.

    While still hot carefully blend in sugar (about 1 pound), a pinch of salt, butter (about 2 ounces), a tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and the juice of one lemon. Cool throughly. May be refrigerated up to two days for later use.

    Scale about 3 1/2 cups filling into each unbaked pie crust, cover with top crust and bake at 425 degrees F for about 45 minutes, until crust is nicely browned.

    I was a US Navy cook (US John Paul Jones DD932), I baked countless apple pies/cakes using that recipe.

  12. andreabn 02/02/2012

    Hi Tractor1,

    All good info., thanks for sharing it! We sometimes have that type of winter "thaw" you mentioned with temps unseasonably warm. It does damage the buds once it starts to freeze again. I have also learned that hand-thinning will increase size of the fruit left on the tree. Good to know that you don't really need to fertilize fruit trees, one less thing to do!

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