Though the rain put a damper on my garden plans this season, it was a good year for pears. I harvested over a bushel of pears from two of my pear trees. One is a Bartlett espaliered against my garden shed, and the other is a standard Moonglow. Both are only several years old and this is the first significant harvest I’ve gotten. It’s great to be reaping the fruits of my labor!
Training a fruit tree against a wall or building is called espalier. It’s been done for centuries, but fits in with permaculture principles in using space logically. A microclimate is created on the south side of a building or wall, protecting plants from harsh winter temperatures and providing a warmer space for flowering and fruit ripening. The branches are trained over years during early development. I secured the branches to oak sticks I’d screwed into the side of my shed. Eventually I untied the branches, but they retained their position, having grown into the shape I’d secured them in. Now I just have to prune them in the spring to ensure fruiting and I can get a crop out of an area that wouldn’t otherwise produce anything. Aside from the productivity, espaliers are beautiful and give the impression of abundance. They can also be used to screen uglier buildings, replacing an eyesore with a natural feature.