Intro: Big Bush, Small Space ~ How to Espalier a Pomegranate Bush
I'm all about nesting this year. One huge focus has been the back yard and gardening in the little space we have.
While planting my box garden I came across a Pomegranate bush at the local garden center. Wheels and gears started turning in my head and a little puff of steam issued forth. I had to bring this home! The problem is this bush can grow to be about 12 to 15 feet in diameter, and that would not work!
I have previously done an Espalier on a potted Lime tree and it seems happy being trained, so this must work! I didn't see any good options for a trellis and the ones for sale were so expensive anyway. I must make my own to fit the space.
I will create a fan shaped trellis to help contain the pomegranate bush in this border space and maintain a privacy screen along my fence line.
Remove an existing bush, amend the soil, create a trellis, train your bush, trim your bush, and watch it grow.
Pomegranate bush - mine came in a 7 gallon pot
Wood for trellis - I used two redwood fence planks about 11/16"x7 1/2"
outdoor wood glue
gardening wire - I used the plastic coated wire
Reciprocating saw with aggressive wood blade (recipro saw, sabre saw, or Sawzall are common names)
Air compressor and pneumatic staple gun
Carpenters squares and rulers
Step 1: Prepare Space
I had to dig out a 30 year old bush to make way for this grand new idea. It was a nice enough bush, but it was ornamental and I wanted more fruit!
I started with pruning cutters and worked my way to a reciprocating saw as the branches got thicker.
The roots were the hardest part, but plenty of digging and cutting made it happen. I suggest getting help as this is a lot of strenuous labor. I'm glad my neighbor on the other side of the fence helped out!
We ended up filling 6 of the neighbors green waste recycling bins getting this beast out.
Now would be a nice time to sift out rocks and root segments that remain and add some compost to amend the soil.
Step 2: Irrigate
I tapped into an existing sprinkler line and added a border row sprinkler head to be sure this area would get plenty of water.
Step 3: Make Trellis
This part involved making a trip down to my local TechShop to use the wood shop. Check them out at http://www.techshop.ws
I did a quick sketch and estimated I would use about 2 fence planks cut into strips. One was 5', the other was 6' long.
I cut the wood on the table saw. The 4 main support posts would be 1 1/2" and the remaining wood was cut into 1" strips.
As I built, I deviated from the sketch a little thinking 4 upright posts would disperse the load more evenly.
Step 4: Sharpen Posts
The 4 post strips were cut on an angle 4" from the bottom to form a spiked end.
Step 5: Lay Out Strips
First I did the vertical posts, then followed with the fan pattern uprights and horizontal supports.
Be sure to measure as needed for even spacing and check for square corners.
When you are happy with how it looks start joining the bottom cross brace to tie the posts together.
I used wood glue and staples.
Step 6: Cut and Attach Fan Strips
At this point I cut a couple small bracing strips to support the bottom of the fan strips. To get the proper angles needed at the base, use a ruler to mark a straight line where the strips line up. Cut these pieces on the band saw and glue and staple them in place.
Step 7: Add Top Horizontal Brace
This last cross brace will help the fan ends all tie together and give your bush one more lateral support to bind with.
Your trellis is now done.
Step 8: Install Bush and Trellis
Be sure to dig your hole deeper and wider than the pot size for your plant. I was lucky and got help from a friend who likes to dig.
We put the pomegranate into the ground and amended the surrounding soil with a bit of compost.
Dig four holes for the trellis posts and fill them in afterwards once you like the placement.
Soak the area to help settle everything in place.
Step 9: Bind and Trim Your Bush
I had about 8 branches on the bush and started attaching them to the fan strips in the most natural order I could see. Don't make the wire ties too tight or they will damage the plant. Our goal is to suggest a way to grow.
Once they have been arranged to your liking, trim back the extra branches that don't follow your visual idea. This will be a continual process as the years go by. Imagine how the branches will grow over time and choose the stronger branches to remain. My intention is for this to remain primarily in the shape of the trellis guidance and maybe bush out about a foot on either side of the trellis as it matures.
Step 10: Enjoy Your New Pomegranate Bush
Here's my first one just starting to take shape. I can't wait to try it out!
Update - we got two amazing pomegranates this year! I was pleased since this is such a young bush. I cannot wait until next season!