Protect early blooming fruit trees from frost by shaping them into a pergola and covering it with foil when needed
Darko SavicApr 02, 2022
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Shape four early blooming fruit trees to grow into a pergola. Their trunks serve as pillars and branches grow only inward. If they bloom before the danger of frost has passed, cover them with foil to create a tent/greenhouse. Heat it slightly during freezing temperatures.
Early blooming trees start to blossom if late winter temperatures are too high (global warming). A sudden return of freezing temperatures kills off the fruit buds. The result is no fruit that year. This idea prevents frostbite on early blooming fruit trees and thereby save the fruit season.
The climate is changing. If we want fruit, we have to adapt our ways of growing orchards.
Create a nice shade to chill under during summer days.
Putting foil over trees with bulky canopies is difficult. Shape them so that they are easy to enclose at a moment's notice.
How it works
When planting an orchard, pick the early blooming fruit trees like apricots, cherries, plums, apples, pears and position them in groups of 4. Each tree represents one of the 4 corner pillars. Together they will eventually grow into a pergola.
The branches of each tree are trained to grow only towards the inside of the pergola. Any branches that try to grow outside of the cube are cut off. When each tree reaches the height of 3 meters, cut its top (apex). That will be the maximum height of each tree. Pick a branch that sticks slightly to the outside and cut it as well. That one will hold the support beams which form a square roof between all 4 trees.
The reason the support beam branch should be cut toward the outside of the pergola perimeter is so that the roof extends slightly past the tree. The foil that will be mounted on the beams should not touch the tree trunk. Any heat that is captured within the covered pergola should also protect the tree trunk.
Eventually the branches can be trained to interlock between the trees as demonstrated below. The pergola will grow stronger each year. Eventually the branches themselves can replace the suport beams.
Every autumn, you shoudl cut and shape the canopies so that none of the branches sticks out of the pergola's perimeter. The entire structure should be flat on top and sides so that it's easy to enclose with foil at a moments notice.
You can fill the entire inside of the pergola with branches, making just enough room for yourself to comfortably pick fruit.
Normal start of the season
Early blooming fruit trees will come out of dormancy when conditions are favorable. The problem is that lately temperatures are unpredictable. Winter can make a surprise come-back for a day or two. This is just long enough to kill the would-be fruit buds.
You will need to monitor the weather forecast and get ready to cover the pergola with polyethylene foil. Add a heat source in the center of the pergola to get the trees through the short freezing period.
Early start of the season
If you're brave enough and have the energy to spare you can enclose the pergola in late winter and heat it slightly to bring the trees out of dormancy early.
It would be ideal to have a small bee hive within the pergola. The bees come out when it's warm, and stay in when it's cold.
You will have to spend some extra energy to heat the enclosed pergola if cold temperatures return.
This is what the canopy would look like, only larger and all of it would be shaped towards the inside of the pergola.
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A fruit-bearing house
Darko SavicApr 03, 2022
Even the areas between trees could be filled with something like this:
This would provide additional points of support for the roof beams and provide multiple opportunities to tie the foil on the sides so that it doesn't flap around in the wind.
Hmm.. looking at this photo made me realize:
Trees could be shaped to form a square structure with a sloped roof included. If the tree structure came out of dormancy before the danger of frost is over one could simply cover it with polyethylene foil and it would effectively turn into a house-shaped greenhouse. In the spring when the foil is removed, the entire thing would look like a house made of leaves and branches. A fruit-bearing house.