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 Anyone tried a Belgian apple fence? 
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
Post Anyone tried a Belgian apple fence?
I am thinking of making a belgian fence from M26 rootstock. I will graft some apples on them. Would it be best to stick to 1 type of apple for uniform growth or multiple varieties for looks? Also, would east/west be better than north/south orientation? What type of apples should I try? What are your favorites. Thanks for any and all info.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Fri Feb 02, 2007 1:06 pm
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Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:55 pm
Posts: 80
Location: Riverside, Southern California USDA Zone 10a
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Different varieties! That's one of the main reasons for having small espaliers, is to get as many varieties into a space as possible. North/South is traditional, but East/West would work fine. In your zone you can plant just about whatever you want. Asking our favorite varieties on this board could be hazardous, but I'll vote for Hall and Queen Cox (let the hate mail begin).

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Kevin Hauser
Kuffel Creek Apple Nursery
Riverside, Southern California
USDA Zone 10a


Fri Feb 02, 2007 3:03 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
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Now I will have to find some scionwood. East/West would get more sun but only on 1 side. I have many of the 'ordinary' apples. I will see what I can find. I will try to document my progress online. Thanks for your response.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Fri Feb 02, 2007 3:15 pm
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Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2004 11:08 am
Posts: 59
Post 
It is important to choose disease resistant varieties for lower maintenance. Take a look at Ashley apple. It is a new introduction from Kazakhstan that tastes like Jonagold and it is scab resistant.

Marc Camargo
fruit-tree.com nursery
Visit us at http://www.fruit-tree.com
Our motto: "Preservation by dissemination"


Sat Feb 03, 2007 7:19 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
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Thanks for the reply. I will see if I can find some scion wood for it. It will be fun to try the grafting and try some new varieties.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Sat Feb 03, 2007 7:46 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
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Ok I have 10 rootstocks on order (M26) and scionwood from 7 apple varieties. I will do whip and tongue grafting for them. How do you seal the graft after the graft is done? I saw a website that suggests waxing the whole scion end of the graft. I also have rubber banding I can use. What is your preferred method. Also, should I plant only 6 of the grafts and keep 4 out in case not all the grafts take?
Thanks for any help.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Tue Feb 06, 2007 5:22 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 3:53 pm
Posts: 22
Location: Seattle, WA
Post Anyone tried a Belgian apple fence
Sorry for my late response. I will try to answer your questions, and perhaps anticipate several others. (1.) Useful background info: I started a Belgian fence (of nearly two dozen different apple varieties) about 10 years ago. For the past several years, I have been teaching a class at the UW's Center for Urban Horticulture called "The Art of Espalier." This year's two different classes are scheduled for different Saturdays: one in April, and one in May. Plus, at the upcoming Feb. 14-18 NW Flower & Garden Show (in Seattle's Convention Center), we will have a booth in which we will have an espaliered apple tree on display, plus a large photo of my Belgian fence. Bonus: There will be a lecture on espaliered fruit trees on Wed., Feb. 14 at 9:30 am. (2.) One of the best decisions I made was to grow DIFFERENT apple varieties (called cultivars). The variety presents an exciting element. Because I grow apples from all over the world, I call mine the "United Nations of apple cultivars." I strongly encourage you to go to an OCTOBER fall fruit show -- either the HOS one near Portland, or ours in Seattle -- where over a hundred different apple (and pear) varieties will be available for tasting. (3.) For EASE OF CARE, you might consider "scab immune" apple cultivars such as Liberty, Freedom, Goldrush, Bramley's Seedling, Sir Prize, Priscilla, NY 55140-9, and Buckley Giant. Other "scab resistant" varieties include Roxbury Russet, Erwin Bauer, Ashmead & Williams Pride (among others). BTW, both apples and pears work well for a Belgian fence, and you may combine them if you prefer. My Belgian fence is made up entirely of apples, but I have a nearby espaliered "Lincoln Canopy" of pears, Asian pears, and apples. (4.) There are numerous ROOTSTOCK OPTIONS for you to think about. After careful consideration, I decided to use an interstem tree that combines MM.111 on the bottom (for better anchorage and drought tolerance) and a M.9 section in the middle (for dwarfing effect on the overall tree). Obviously, the individual apple cultivar is grafted onto the MM.111/M.9 interstem, and forms the top tier of the tree. You can use an M.26 if you like, but the root structure of an M.26 is smaller and less involved than the root structure or an MM.111. Some people also like to use an even smaller rootstock than an M.26 (such as an M.9, M.27, or P.22). Keep in mind that: the smaller your rooting structure, the greater the need to stake your trees (and not just when they are young, but for the life of the trees), and the greater the need for irrigation, especially for droughts. (5.) N-S is best because of the a balance between morning and afternoon sun exposure on the E and W sides. If planted E-W, your Belgian fence will want to grow to the S side, and it will be "unbalanced" to that side. (6.) I see you live in Rochester, WA. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact me directly: David at applesandmore@hotmail.com. I happen to be president of the Seattle Tree Fruit Society.


Mon Feb 12, 2007 2:10 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
Post Thanks for the detailed reply
I appreciate you input. This will be a fun experiment. I am going to teach myself grafting, espalier, and the belgian fence all at once or give it a try at least. I will take pics and make a webpage for others benefit.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:15 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 3:53 pm
Posts: 22
Location: Seattle, WA
Post Belgian apple fence
I can relate to your plight, as well as to your enthusiasm and eagerness to teach yourself. This was precisely the position I was in approximately 12+ years ago. Then, I realized that there was not much useful info out there. Expecting that I would need to learn how to graft my interstem trees, I joined the Seattle Tree Fruit Association (we also publish a useful monthly newsletter). I read all I could find, and sought any and all classes & workshops on espaliers. Eventually, it was mostly a self-taught experiment. After your Belgian fence takes shape (mine took approx. 6+ years to get to this point), it's very gratifying to see the results, and to receive lots of positive comments from neighbors and friends. My advice: Have fun! It's a fun project. Again, feel free to contact me directly (at applesandmore@hotmail.com) if you want/need advice or suggestions along the way. BTW, I forgot to mention one very important element: soil prepartion. Because growing a Belgian fence is a long-term project, I chose to thoroughly prepare my soil in advance of planting my trees (1 used one-year old whips) by rototilling and amending my existing soil (which was mostly clay). In hindsight, I'm not at all sorry that I did this extra step. Lastly, training young trees is somewhat daunting, but is also very gratifying. Good luck!


Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:38 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
Post Soil ammending
I was planning on digging a 'bed' about 4 foot wide by about 25 foot long about 18 inches deep and amending the soil there. I also planned to use landscape fabric for weed control. But just lately I have been a bit side tracked. I am building and ultra dwarf orchard off of my patio. I have 6 ultra dwarf trees I will put in puts and plan to put rocks arround with a sitting area inside. Its always fun to play.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Tue Feb 13, 2007 1:18 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
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Time to bring this back up. Will it work to plant 10 apples in a north south direction along a chain link fence that is my dog pen? The fence is 6 feet tall. I have about 70 feet of it. Is there any negatives to having it up against a chainlink fence? Thanks for any input. I plan to start taking pics of this project soon.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Wed Mar 21, 2007 2:57 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:54 am
Posts: 88
Location: Essex, England Zone 8
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How many dogs? Dog urine might be a problem.


Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:12 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
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There is only 1 dog and it will be on the other side of the fence. Maybe this is not such a good place. I just liked the thought of the fence to tie branches too. Thanks for your input.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:10 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:54 am
Posts: 88
Location: Essex, England Zone 8
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1 dog shouldn't be a problem


Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:23 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1146
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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My thoughts are: that fence would become a permanent structure. ...but I've seen this done on chainlink fences, and it always looks better than 'chain links!' You may have a more difficult time weeding at the base of the fence / trunks with the fence in the way, but with good preparation and the weed barrier you described, that could work. ...but if you've got a 'leg-lifter,' that might not be beneficial.

I envy everyone with the ability to Espalier... I've got deer... and I still can't understand how I got to the point of having two 12 foot X 2" galvanized pipes, stepping off my espaliered layout, choosing my varieties … when it finally struck me - what about the Deer?! Yes... I was much younger, and still smile about that. But to me, the training would be the best part! And since I haven't commented on this subject, I too suggest you go with many "cultivars," for length of (eating) season and pollination.

I'd met a guy my second year grafting at our scion exchange who asked if I'd graft on some pollinating "varieties" to his extensive and beautiful espaliered apple (N-S) rows (about 60 feet total) of basically one variety in Gales Creek (Ore.). I did, about 2 days worth. Stopping in once in a while on our way to the beach, they've done great. So definitely use more than one cultivar / variety. {Speaking of which, I'd happily use the more correct term "Cultivar" when describing a "Variety," but like calling a “Cutting” a "Scion" – we might loose some}.

Sounds like you've a busy Spring? The best kind :D

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Sat Mar 24, 2007 10:45 am
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