To keep your harvest off the dirt and in the air where it's able to develop freely and enjoy good air circulation and plentiful sunshine, supports may be in order. A wide variety is available, depending on the fruit you want to grow. Figure 15-3 shows two different ways to train grapes with supports. There are several methods of training grapes.
Two common grape-training systems.
16" 40 cm
16" 40 cm
Four-cane Kniffen trellis (labrusca, hybrids)
Supports also help keep a developing harvest visible and accessible and serve to train the fruit in a certain way to make it easily accessible; they also ensure a larger harvest. This support may involve anything from bracing boards under a heavy branch to a sturdy trellis to rigs of posts and wire. Figure this need into your plans when selecting both a spot and a cultivar.
All of the systems have one thing in common: They are designed to keep the vines off the ground so the fruit has good air circulation, exposure to sunlight, and is easier to harvest. If your vines don't end up looking just like a book drawing, don't worry. It is not critical.
Fruit tree training systems, on the other hand, are designed to expose the fruit to good air flow (to reduce disease) and to bright sunlight (to ripen the fruit), and to encourage a tree structure that is strong and will encourage more fruit production. The ones in Figure 15-4 are fairly easy one to follow, but others may be equally as successful.
Espalier trees are trained to grow in one dimension or plane (again, see Figure 15-4). They are commonly used against fences or buildings. Their shapes can be quite artistic and ornamental. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, they also result in high-quality fruit that is easy to tend and harvest.
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