Firstly you need to establish a training system against a wall or fence. Erect horizontal wires 35-45cm (15-18in) apart between posts, or straining ‘eyes’ on walls or fences.
Trees should be planted 3.75m-6m (12-20ft) apart, according to their vigour. See our advice in trees and shrubs: planting for more information on planting trees.
Pruning an unfeathered maiden (one-year-old tree with no sideshoots)
- When planting an unfeathered maiden, cut back the main stem to 30cm (1ft) from the ground
- Allow the top three buds to grow out in spring, train the top one vertically up a cane, the others two to canes at 45 degrees to the main stem. In November, lower them carefully until they are horizontal, tying them in with soft twine
- Cut back the vertical stem to within 45cm (18in) or the lower arms, leaving two buds to form the next horizontal layer and the top bud to form the new leader. If growth is weak, prune back the horizontal branches by one-third to downward facing buds
- The following year train the second tier in the same way as the first. Cut back competing growths on the main stem and sideshoots from the horizontal arms back to three leaves above the basal cluster
- Repeat the process until the trees have produced their final tier and grown horizontally to fill their allotted space. Then allow two shoots to grow, tie them to the top wire and cut them back to within 2.5cm (1in) of their base the following winter
Remove the blossom in spring, for the first three years, so all of the energy goes into plant growth.