Citrus Espalier – Stage 1

29 Sep

Last weekend we bought the trees, but the backyard is not yet ready to take them. We still need to break up some garden beds, cut through some concrete, construct a huge planter box and erect some espalier supports before we can do that.

But I didn’t want to waste a growing season so I’ve started shaping the trees now. Luckily the railing of my back deck is made of tensioned wires that are perfect for training the trees against.

For the time being I planted the trees into bonsai bags. I had quite a few of these hanging about from when some trees were stolen. The bags are the same depth as the pots that the trees came out of, so perfect for the job. I filled the bags with potting mix enriched with dynamic lifter and mulched with lucerne.

You might recall that I’m aiming to follow Bob Magnus’ KNNN method of espalier, which looks kinda like this (excuse the terrible drawing):

I started of by bending the main trunks of the trees down to knee-level. This is the Eureka lemon. It wasn’t very cooperative.

And there’s the Tahitian lime:

And the Tarocco Blood Orange didn’t mind a bit!

Not sure yet what I’m doing with the cumquat on the right. I’m starting to think it would be better off in the front yard as an ornamental tree, but it grows slowly, so I have some time to think with that one.

And the Meyer Lemon and the Imperial Mandarin look good.

You can see that both are loaded with flowers and didn’t mind being coaxed into position, although not sure what I’m going to do with the mandarin because it really needs at least one of its main branches lopped off. Should I just go ahead and do it now?

And I’ll finish with a close-up of the lovely Meyer lemon flowers.

I have a good feeling about this one…

12 Responses to “Citrus Espalier – Stage 1”

  1. Jamie September 30, 2012 at 7:02 am #

    Wow, that’s ambitious, and basically a great idea.

    One constructive, citrus-growing comment, though. Those planter bags. Generally, for citrus to be happy long-term they need to be in pots at least 40cm diameter (measured across the top) and for the pots to be raised up on pot feet, so water can drain away through plentiful drainage holes. I can’t see those bags providing the right growing conditions, so my gentle suggestion is to have a look at an alternative to those bags.

    I love the idea, though, and hope it all works out exactly how you hope it will.

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney October 2, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

      Thanks Jamie. I’m hoping that the bags will be a temporary measure. I did have trouble with them early on with the plants getting wet feet, so I agree with your conclusion.

  2. Daphne September 30, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    I so wish I could grow citrus here. But for now I’ll just have to get vicarious pleasure from yours.

  3. Lilian September 30, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    I love the idea of espalier and did try it once with a camellia. The initial process feels like you’re torturing the poor tree and I was always tentative because I was afraid I’d snap the limbs. It didn’t work out as well as I’d planned – probably because the pot that I put it in wasn’t large enough in the end. It’s looking good for your citrus though. I had dreams of having an espaliered apple tree fence around my veggie patch but never got around to it.

  4. Kate September 30, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Looks good. Hope it all goes well. Such a great idea, espalier, especially for urban gardens.

  5. Liz September 30, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    I love that you’ve bought so many varieties, which is exactly what I did when I went citrus shopping a couple of years ago. Hope they do well for you and do like your espaliering work.

  6. Louise October 1, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Love this method of espalier, very pretty. Hope they go/grow well for you. I love my espaliered citrus, they give me such pleasure, I am sure they will give you this pleasure too.

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney October 2, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

      I think I’ve been a bit ambitious considering the light situation, but I’ll give it my best shot anyway.

  7. Bek October 1, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    Looks great! If it was me I’d lop off the least ideal mandarin branch now, and let the plant concentrate its growth on the branches you want. But I know nothing about espaliering citrus.

  8. sydfoodie October 23, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    Should they be espaliered against a temporary structure rather than your permanent railing? I have visions of L vs pre-espaliered tree, and the latter winning.

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney October 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

      I’m hoping it’s quite temporary, and the fact that they are in pots should mean that they are maneuverable (I hope).

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