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