Growing Apples

Pic to the right: a colonnade apple tree from Starks Bros.

Apples are an all-purpose fruit. Great vitamins and minerals, massive amounts of fiber, pectin in the skin helps make jam out of almost any other fruit, makes great vinegar. If you can possibly fit even a colonnade (basically a stick with apples on it) apple tree in your yard, then do it!

There's an apple for almost any climate, size and space, and need. There are apples that go quickly, and some that keep all winter and into the Spring. There are sooo many varieties... early and late varieties, so you could conceivably eat fresh apples all year round, except maybe during the mid summer when you'll have fresh soft fruit (berries) then anyway!

Ask your neighbors or trusted friends for their favorite varieties and nurseries.

Here are some tips:
  • When you order your tree(s), have the nursery prune them before sending.
  • They like plenty of muck and good deep loam. They don't like acid soil so you might have to add some lime. Be sure to get a soil test kit from your local nursery to do the test yourself.
  • Pick a spot where it will get full sun, have room to spread out, is very well-draining, and is NOT in a frost pocket.
  • Dig a hole three-times the size of the rootball/root, place in the tree, throw in some lime, and fill with good draining potting soil along with topsoil.
  • Put on your February gardening to-do-list: Prune apple trees. Ask for specifics from your supplier as certain apple trees need specific pruning, differing from other apple trees. Find an experienced advisor, perhaps from a local nursery. Take notes and do some of it yourself.
  • Keep the ground below the apple tree free of growing weeds and grass. Mulch heavily with compost, but DON'T use chicken or pigeon manure as it can cause too much growth and not enough apples. When you mow grass, place the cut blades of grass around the tree, to allow them to decompose.
  • If you don't want to spray (we definitely don't), you will probably be alright. Just watch for infestations and deadwood. Paint affected areas with white lead paint.
  • Scab is brownish scabs on the apples which is not a good thing. Collect all of the fallen leaves, pruned branches, etc. and burn them each year. Then spray just before the petals look like they're gonna open, and again after the petals drop.
  • Best thing is to let chickens have the run of the apple orchard. Chances are a few chickens won't provide too much manure to cause too much growth/not enough apples, but they WILL help keep the insect/bug population down.

This is one of the best fruits you can grow yourself and eat daily. Healthy healthy!

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