Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Festooning Fruit Trees

I recently watched a film called The Permaculture Orchard. In it, Stephan Sobkowiak demonstrates his method of bending down the branches of apples in order to induce fruiting rather than additional leaf growth.

As opposed to pruning, which stimulates more green growth, "festooning" allows for a tree to be spread out lower to the ground and harvested easily.

Though I have no idea if this will increase the fruit set on mulberry or peach trees, I decided to tie down their branches (after some judicious pruning) so as to allow for easier harvests this spring and summer.

Here's my Illinois Everbearing mulberry:

Notice the cinderblock weights holding that branch down.

Here's a shot from another angle:

I selected four main trunks of this multi-trunked specimen then cut out the branches that were too low, crossing, or shooting straight up in the center.

I used military paracord to tie up the branches since it's light, strong and cheap. To avoid girdling the branches, I wrapped it multiple times around some protecting pieces of old inner tube I secured around the branches needing festooning. You can see the black bands on the trees - those are where the paracord attaches.

With one of my seedling peach trees I took a similar approach; however, I refrained from cutting it, mostly because I'm interested in seeing what a peach tree will do without pruning.

I also pulled a lot of it sideways along a similar plane so the branches won't shade the garden beds adjacent to this tree. They're in the foreground, just out of sight.

Over time, the branches should set themselves in this position and allow me to untie the cinderblocks.

I believe this method will work out well for tree growth and fruit accessibility.

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At February 10, 2015 at 2:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be interested to see what happens! I watched a segment about hedgers in Britain where the hedger bends (and partially cuts the trunk, if I remember right) of a hazel sapling, bends it down, and interweaves it with other bent trunks. The hedger said this would encourage dense growth all along the trunk past the bend. I assumed he meant shoots and leaves, but I wonder how that affects fruit (or in this case, nut) production. --Ivy Mae


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