On Monday I posted this video on keeping fruit trees small:
Oak Summit Nursery comments:
This is a great video. We’re on the Canadian prairies, and here we basically need to use full sized rootstocks for fruit trees like apples just to have the vigor and cold hardiness, also the growing season in short. Yes I do have an old apple tree that’s 35 feet tall, but only because it wasn’t pruned – sure they can get that large. All of the standard “full sized” trees I’ve planted in years since have been really easy to keep small with pruning and training, selecting some main scaffolds and keeping them low and spreading, and the trees can be close together. My orchard was planted in a forest, the natural vegetation before I started was all aspen (tall but they don’t produce much shade), choke cherry, saskatoon, and small oaks. Instead of clear cutting the trees to make room, I just made paths around them, and used small existing clearings to plant my fruit trees. Instead of removing small oaks I decided to make them into Niwaki, or garden trees. Yes the oaks can be 50′ tall, but I’m going to keep them at 5-6′ with pruning, and give them cool artistic shapes. Same with pines, I’ve added them around the orchard and train the with cool bends, Niwaki is like an in ground larger bonsai. The few tall aspens that might eventually block some light will be reduced like “syntropic agroforestry” style, I can keep the tree and just remove branches, pollard it down to size and add their biomass to the ground – ok we don’t have bamboo or bananas here to chop and drop but it’s the same idea. Most of the light in the summer is at a high angle, so dense spacing is fine and the trees can still get full sun even though they’ve been integrated into a forest garden. I enjoy all of your ideas about keeping the trees the shape and size you want. One day I can imagine step over espaliers around my garden paths. There’s another style of training we’re trying here in zone 3 called Russian arctic stanza, where you train an apple tree along the ground so it can be covered up by snow for the winter and zone push.
You can do a LOT with trees! A lot more than you think.
In the video I cover methods including festooning, espalier, pruning, multi-planting trees and more.