Gardening in France: Apple tree problems

It was that urge of chasing the no-guilty- air mile-apple that drew me down the rabbit hole of a single of the most baffling horticultural specialities I’ve encountered: apple and pear escalating. What to select, how to train, when to prune?

I grafted my nine apple trees myself, courtesy of the once-a-year bourse (trade) of ‘scions’ operate by my local Croqueurs de Pommes on the to start with Sunday of February 2014. (The scion is the short vegetative section of the cultivar you want to expand that is then deftly – or not, in my situation – attached by a adorable little bit of carpentry to the rootstock.). My ignorance was profound as I wandered all around the complicated array of option at that first bourse. I ought to have done my January research!

What would you pick? If your aspiration, like mine, is a residence-developed apple in January, you must go for apples that can be picked latish (say, mid-Oct) and preserve well by way of until finally March.

Below are some of the ideal, all of which are happily pollinated by ‘Reine des Reinettes’:

  • ‘Reinette Grise du Canada’. An outdated heritage cultivar and the default russet in France. Keeps as a result of until May possibly (they say!) when harvested mid-October.
  • Calville Blanc d’Hiver’ and ‘Calville Rouge d’Hiver’. Heritage types, regarded as significantly back as 1598 in the scenario of the ‘Blanc’. They are a peculiar, instead lumpy condition and the connoisseur apple of French cooks, desired for Tarte Tatin. The first, somewhat sharp, flavor grows sweeter in storage. Believe it or not, they consist of a lot more vitamin C than an orange.
  • ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’ stays real with storage, but it does not like a great deal of heat in cultivation, so not useful south of the Loire.
  • ‘Braeburn’ is my last decision – it just about matches ‘Cox’s Pippin’ for ‘eatability’ and retaining!

As properly as picking your types, January is also a fantastic thirty day period to be pruning and training 

An open up-developed bush or tree is relatively uncomplicated to prune and coach. But what about espaliers? I selected that variety in my own garden for the reason that I needed to divide up the open up place at the bottom of the back garden with attractive screens that would give me a sense of distinct ‘rooms’.

My espaliers are planted to be trained in opposition to four wires, strained horizontally involving posts, each wire about 40-45cms apart. In concept I’ll be ready to do without the need of the wires and posts later on on, but I’m not confident if I’ll be all-around that extended!

In the very first wintertime after planting, slice the younger trees back again to just above the initial wire. Depart three buds at the idea. The top bud is for vertical growth and underneath it there really should be two buds, 1 facing correct, 1 still left. The central bud development that occurs in the spring will be skilled vertically to continue up to the subsequent wire, the development from the other two is educated to bamboo canes tied to your wires at an angle of about 45 degrees.

The adhering to winter season you can tie down these branches to the horizontal wires, eradicating the canes completely. But never be in also substantially of a hurry, as untimely horizontal coaching will depress advancement. Prune again to 10 to 13cms any other shoots that come up from the central stem. Rinse and repeat in the a long time that abide by until the top rated wire is achieved – et voilà! You have your fruiting framework and can just concentrate on summer time pruning in August.

Decision of cultivars for espaliers?

I now know that spur-bearing trees – these kinds of as all of the superior ‘keepers’ I have suggested previously mentioned – make the greatest espaliers. Their fruit is solely produced on extremely small spurs arising from the principal horizontal ‘arms’ of the tree, which will allow you to prune very difficult in August summer time pruning is considerably much more intense on an espalier than it would be on a less formally grown tree.

All of the vegetative development of that season, arising from the horizontal ‘arms’ of the espalier, is cut away completely to just a few buds earlier mentioned the basal cluster of leaves that sprout from the wooden of the ‘arm’.

Here’s the place I seriously boobed, for the reason that when I grafted my plants in 2014 I selected two cultivars which, while really good, are partial tip-bearers. ‘Transparente Blanche’ and ‘Blenheim Orange’ do a sizeable proportion of their fruiting at the strategies of their vegetative advancement – development which, of system, I am busily pruning absent in August! Luckily, my two are not correct suggestion-bearers and do produce shorter fruiting spurs future to the structural branches as well. Only time will inform if they create ample quick fruiting spurs to justify acquiring experienced them as espaliers!

The rabbit hole goes on and on… and I carry on to worm my way to the bottom. If only I’d carried out my homework far more thoroughly. But never be deterred by my experience – grafting and growing fruit trees formally is immensely fulfilling and there is generally a way to solution your ‘mistakes’.

Have you received a favorite apple cultivar? I’d adore to hear why you like it. Truly feel no cost to get in touch – electronic mail me at

Relevant stories

This historic Lyon backyard is a wintertime gem

French olives: Top quality in excess of amount

Resource hyperlink

You May Also Like