From the Archives
of the Rare Fruit Society of South Australia, inc.
by Margaret and John Poole
We commenced planting our fruit tree orchard in the early eighties.
Diligently we spaced a variety of trees a recommended 17 feet (5.2m)
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.
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
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, galvanized brackets and self-tapping screws.
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
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
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 regulations. We figured that drippers would not give an even
coverage and overhead watering would encourage fungus growth.
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.
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.
label the espaliered fruit trees, we use a black, engraved,
ultra-violet stable plastic, attached by speed nuts to the supporting
The following links give testimony as to the success of our project.
Espalier Installation Images