20 people gathered at the Boorowa Community Garden on Sunday the 4th of August to learn about espaliering.
Robert Fitzpatrick, a retired Kingsvale orchardist with a lifetime of experience was the tutor. The site had been prepared with 8 poles 9 metres from the racecourse outside rail and 3 runs of fencing wire stretched between the poles about 0.5m, 1m & 1.5m above the ground.
Robert brought 7 small, bare rooted grafted trees including varieties of pears, peaches, nectarines, plums and quinces. Most just reached the first wire run though some were taller. Selecting branches that roughly lined up with the wire, Robert tied them on with grafting rubber and then pruned off the unwanted branches.
He gave lessons about pruning peaches and nectarines (take last year’s wood), cherries (fashions changing through the years) and pears. At the completion of the espaliered row, Robert planted two triple grafted trees, one cherry and one peach/plum elsewhere in the garden. He pruned them as free standing trees with the cherry being little more than a triple grafted stump when he was done.
During the break, the crowd retired to the Men’s Den Kitchen for soup and networking. Next was a visit to a member’s garden with well-established trees. Robert donned a harness connected to large powered secateurs to prune a pair of established espaliered pears and a small peach. Robert again took last year’s wood as fruiting only happens on new wood.
Robert explained that a lot of the splitting in the centre of a huge, straggly peach tree was burning because the tree had been pruned into too open a vase shape and the sun had burnt the centre.
He easily pruned 5cm branches and finished with delicate work on a small almond. The day was worthwhile for all who attended.
The next Boorowa Community Garden workshop will be on raised beds on Sunday 15th September 10am-2.30pm.
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