This is my step-over apple tree, although I think you'd need to be a giant to step over it. Perhaps I should explain. Have you ever done something that seemed to be a good idea at the time ? Then circumstances change, and that good idea turns into a disaster. I decided to grow a step-over apple tree after watching a TV programme many years ago. You can buy step-over apple trees, but they are very expensive. It is quite easy to produce your own. It is, really, mine didn't always look like this.
First of all, you need a one year old apple tree with two strong branches low down the stem. Plant the tree, and train the two branches along a horizontal wire. Remove the leader and any other branches. There you are, job done. You should now have a T-shaped apple tree. As the tree grows, you should continue to train the branches along the horizontal wire, and prune as if growing a cordon tree.
So what did I do wrong, you may ask. As I had started with such a young tree, it took a few years to produce its first fruit, but eventually it did. And this coincided with the arrival of our first puppy, a golden retriever named Benji. Although he was quite small, those apples looked just like a ball to him, and one by one he leapt up and pulled them off the tree.
The following year, Benji was older and wiser. No longer did he have to jump to reach the fruit, they were now at eye-level. So from then on, ever year he would watch the apples grow, and pick them when he thought they were ripe enough to eat. And the dogs that followed Benji continued his apple harvesting technique. So that is why I abandoned the step-over bit and allowed the tree to grow upwards. Although, as you can see, there will still be plenty of apples for Joey this year.
And finally, the blue tits are constantly in and out of the nestbox these days, feeding their young, and occasionally departing with little white sacs in their beaks. I won't go into too much detail, but suffice to say, what goes in must come out.