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The Advantages of Using Hortomallas Espalier Meshes In Your Fields

This article is focused on exposing the clear improvements you will experience by changing from traditional training methods to more modern and effective ones, by the hand of Hortomallas

Espalier is an antique training system that allows you to grow a fruit tree or a shrub against a flat support structure, creating kind of a living sculpture. Originally, the French word “espalier” referred to the structure on which the tree was trained to grow on, but today it is used to talk about the technique itself. Espalier is a quite ancient system and was used by Europeans (and maybe even by Egyptians too) in the Middle Ages to create outdoor walls and to ornament gardens.

Now, you might be wondering “why espalier?”, well, besides the obvious aesthetic phactor, it is a considerably simple way to grow fruit trees in reduced spaces; it makes  tasks, such as picking and maintenance,  a lot easier since it totally gets you rid of the need of using a ladder.

If it is the first time you are trying this method you must know that there are some fruit trees varieties that are much easier to espalier than others, and those tend to be the ones that take more time to harden their stems. Apples, pears, peaches and pomegranates are good options , being apples the most popular one. Truth is that you can try espalier almost any kind of fruit tree, as long as your zone’s climate allows it and keeping in mind that dwarf trees species are more suitable for this technique. Regardless of what kind of tree you choose, the success of this method will be determined by the location and the support on which your tree will grow. The spot itself should be about 8 feet (2.43 m) of linear space in which your tree should receive at least six hours of sunlight per day. Well drainage is also an important factor to take care about; the healthy growth of your tree will depend on the quality of the soil and how far the roots of the tree are from the espalier structure.

But espalier is not only for training trees, it also works amazingly with woody vines and shrubs such as holly species, star magnolia, gardenia, jasmine and viburnum, to name a few. Advantages and technique stay the same, the only remarkable point is that obviously, being that bushes and vines are lighter than trees, the support structure will not need to be as sturdy as with larger plants. Even though this technique is mostly focused on giving a more formal look to gardens, many agronomists use it in their favor to facilitate and speed up the cultivation process, having better results with vine plants such as cucumber, bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and some other species. That is why hortomallas meshes are such a good option when to espalier your fields is about. Besides the already mentioned advantages of the method, hortomallas gives you the comfort, quality and sanitary conditions that you are looking for.

Wood structures and walls are for sure a very sturdy espalier support, but also are materials that tend to absorb moisture, and hence, to host a large amount of pathogens and fungi that end up affecting the health of your plants. Hortomallas plastic meshes, being inorganic, do not lodge any type of bacteria that could cause infections; conversely, it offers strong support for at least 5 years and taking care of your production at the same time. It is very common to see people using wire and other metallic materials to train and support their plants, but this also implies oxidation of the stems in long term, which causes very difficult to heal infections. To prevent wire and metal hooks from damaging your plants, try hortomallas plastic rings instead; they are reusable, cheaper and improve the phytosanitary conditions of your fields.

There are several espalier forms you can choose from, some more informal and others more difficult to achieve, but each one works better for a determined purpose. Here we will explain to you the step by step of how to form the three-tier horizontal cordon, one of the easiest forms as much as for trees as for vegetables, and the most adequate when espaliering fields:

  1. Hortomallas espalier mesh already has the necessary height for this purpose, so instead of marking the altitude limit of the plant you want to espalier, you will only need to indicate where the central stem will be. If you want to espalier several plants in the same row always make sure they are at least 4 feet (1.2 m) away from each other.
  2. Once you have indicated where the trunks will be it is time to mark at what height these should be trained to grow to the sides. You can do this by simply attaching an Hortoclip every 16 inches, starting to measure the distance from the ground, until you reach the top of the espalier mesh. You will use these hortoclips later to attach the stems to the mesh.
  3. When planting the size of the hole and the season will depend on the especie you choose, but in most cases the trunk should be 4 or 5 inches (10 or 13 cm) away from the mesh.
  4. When the plant has reached the first Hortoclip cut the trunk just above a bud, making sure there are at least three more below this one. This will force the plant to grow more branches near the height where you attached the first Hortoclip. As the plant sprouts new shoots, pick the three thickest and prune the rest of them. These will be the ones that you will tie to left, right and center when they reach the appropriate length (3 or 4 inches/8 or 10 cm). The result should be kind of a T shape.
  5. You will only repeat this process when the horizontal branches have reached at least three quarters of the final length they should have (7.6 feet/2.33 m). Once it has happened, you can repeat the process until you each the last mark on the mesh.

The measures mentioned above are merely referential, but are used in most of the plants used for espaliering. The result of using Hortomallas espalier mesh, together with Hortoclips, is that you will have a better shaped, larger and healthier product as a result, in half the time and expending less money than with other methods.

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