■  We commenced planting our fruit tree orchard in the early eighties. Diligently we spaced a

    variety of trees a recommended 17 feet (5.2m) apart.


■  The trees grew very well, with a little help from a friend's chicken manure, and it was not

    very long before we were picking our first fruit.


■  It soon became apparent that the birds were enjoying the fresh fruit more than Margaret

    and I. Not a problem, we can simply throw a net over the trees. We soon discovered that

    one has to be in a good mood before attempting this feat, because one certainly wasn't

    by the time one had finished. Removing the nets, tearing holes and stitching them together

    again is another story.


■  When we joined the Rare Fruit Society, it became evident that we had no more space on

    our land to plant some of the rare and exotic fruits grown by other members.


■  There had to be a way to overcome both the bird and the space problems. Let's build a

    netted framework over an espaliered system.


■  Pine posts soaked in arsenic didn't appeal to us, nor did termite eating timber. How about

    steel? We didn't have, or know how to use a welder, so we successfully experimented with

    square sectioned steel tubing, galvanised brackets and self-tapping screws.


■  A plan was drawn and a spacing was decided upon of 5 feet (1.5m) between rows and 7

    feet (2.1m) between trees. We read that fruit is generally more prolific on horizontal 

    branches, so we chose a simple 4 wire tiered system which would provide space for about

    25 feet (7.6m) of main branches.


■  The reject steel was delivered by a local salvage yard at less than half normal price. They

    even cut it into requested lengths. We also ordered rolls of half inch square mesh to

    cover the framework.


■  Erection was a lot of fun using a cordless screwdriver, brackets and screws. The netting

    was also attached with screws and netting clips.


■  The watering system consisted of a half inch (13mm) polypipe tied to the bottom trellis

    wire, with upside-down low output micro sprinklers which comply with our water saving


    We figured that drippers would not give an even coverage and overhead watering would

    encourage fungus growth.


■  When the first stage was nearing completion, it was looking so good that we decided to

    double the originally planned area. Since then we have had two more extensions. A small

    area was covered with plastic film which provides a plant propagating area for John.

    Another corner is covered with shadecloth where Margaret's grows her ferns.


■  The soil below is covered with a mulch of wood chips and prunings from our shredder,

    as well as almond shells which are a by-product of Corella destruction.


■  Training the new growth of the young trees is a regular but satisfying job in the Spring

    and early Summer. We have found that the most suitable material for initially securing

    the branches, is tree tie made from re-cycled fabric. It is flexible enough to allow expansion

    of the developing branch and is re-useable for several seasons. Later we replace the ties

    with about 2 or 3 cable ties to each branch.


■  To label the espaliered fruit trees, we use a black, engraved, ultra-violet stable plastic,

    attached by speed nuts to the supporting wire.


■  The following links give testimony as to the success of our project.




              Frame Construction            Espaliered Trees


              Fruit Production            Sundry Images