Thursday, April 19, 2012

Down to the Wire

Awhile back, you read about our posts and trees for our espalier apple tree fence. Nearly five months later, guess what we finally got around to? Yep, wire to train the tree branches on.

Disclaimer: This whole project is an experiment for us, so you probably shouldn't treat this like a tutorial. We are just trying to make a fruit-bearing fence in the most cost-effective, least time-consuming way. Maybe in a decade, we'll actually have an apple to show you.

Last time my mom visited, she brought along some fencing supplies my dad could spare from the latest high-tensile fencing project on the farm. We tossed around a few ideas for stringing the wire but settled on inserting eyebolts in the two end posts, drilling holes in the middle posts, and running the wire through. I got the job of measuring and marking for eyebolts and holes, Keith took care of the drilling.

Feeding the wire through and tightening it didn't take long, but it was easier as a two-person job so I don't have any pictures. But here is the wire in place.

Keith used some clips to clamp the wire back on itself. If it needs tightening, we should be able to turn the eyebolts to get some more tension. If I remember right, it is a 12 gauge wire. (If you don't have a farmer friend or family to give you some fencing supplies, you should be able to find them at a hardware store or a place like Tractor Supply. I saw all the stuff we used at our local Ace Hardware.) Some of the articles I read suggested doing three tiers of wire, with about two feet between each tier. Since our posts aren't all that tall, we did two tiers of wire, with about 15" between them. As soon as the branches start growing, we will gently tie four from each tree onto the wires and prune the rest of them away. Which reminds me that I should be reading up on how and when to prune trees.

I was a little worried this spring that our fence row was going to be an expensive failure. The perennials were looking quite skeletal, and the trees were looking like a $90 collection of large dead twigs stuck in the ground. Then the perennials starting perking up and showing some green growth. All but one, which I started to dig up to replace with an Easter lily from my dad, only to find that under the mulch there were some little shoots struggling towards sunlight. So all my deep-discount perennials have survived. The trees are still leafless, and bud-less, but there is definitely color under the bark so I think they are doing just fine, having survived the rabbit attack during the winter.

Though we won't be making pies with quarter-acre apples anytime soon, we are excited to have our fence complete. Now it's just up to the trees to do the growing.

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