Grow Your Own Apples

 Grow Apples

Grow Apples
Grow Apples
Anyone with any sort of garden can grow at least some Fruit for themselves; and there is nothing so satisfying than being able to watch , as the Spring and Summer progresses , the blossoms setting and the baby fruit beginning to develop and grow and ripen , until that magic day when you reach out and harvest your prize !

There are volumes written on the subject of growing Apples and I have no intention of elaborating on every aspect of the process , but I would like to point you in roughly the direction you should be heading.

Broadly apples fall into two categories – Cookers and Eaters or more correctly Culinary and Desert varieties . Easiest of the Cookers is with out doubt Bramley Seedling . A big bold apple that grows on a big bold tree – Not for the small garden ! But if you have the room-say 5 metres by 7 metres then please have a go – it will not let you down. Try and buy it on a dwarfing root stock – 106 is ideal, but even then it will grow quite large. Another good Cooker is Howgate Wonder, not as vigorous and if kept until the New Year is sweet enough to eat as a desert apple – makes fabulous apple sauce!

Desert Apples are a lot easier to cope with. If you want an apple that will not let you down and will be ready to eat in late August straight off the tree then go for Discovery. Bright red cheeks and tasting like sharp wine and honey; it looks great and it tastes fantastic ! But if you need an apple that lasts and will keep until the New Year and will give you ever changing flavours of pure sophistication then you have to go for Cox’s Orange Pippin; however you will need a rich well drained soil and a sunny aspect for this variety . The list of varieties for both Culinary and Desert apple is endless, and I strongly recommend you consult you local Nursery of Garden Centre and ask which varieties seem to do best locally, they should be able to tell you.

Apple trees can be grown in various guises: Standards – Tall trees on a Stem of about 180 cm -these are only really suitable for growing in Orchards. Half Standards – Trees grown on a stem of about 120 cm and quite suitable for a large to medium sized garden. Bush trees – Branching from the base this size of tree is best suited to small to medium gardens where they can be easily pruned and the fruit can be easily picked ! There are also Cordon trees which are grown on a single stem and are trained at 45 degrees angle along a wire support; these are ideal for a limited space garden were a barrier or screen is required , and then there are ‘Step Over’ plants which are literally very low growing horizontal bushes that are grown along the edges of paths and are there as an a low barrier to ‘Step Over’ and finally there are Espalier trained trees which are usually grown against a wall and have tiered branches trained along wires, and Fan trained trees, which as the name suggests ,have fan arranged branches also grown against a wall and supported by wires. Any of the trees mentioned above which are designed for the smaller garden will be grafted onto dwarfing root stocks , this makes sure that you get the highest yield of fruit from the tree, in addition most dwarfing root stocks have been developed to reduce the risk of disease.

Pollination is another important issue with Apple tree growing, and is often wrapped in mystique and complication which is mostly not in any way necessary . All Apple trees do need to be pollinated or they will not set fruit. Some varieties are easier than others – some can be tricky – but there is no need to panic. Rule of thumb: if you live in an urban area with lots of neighbours with gardens full of apple trees then there is a 99% chance that your Apples will get pollinated; bees and other pollinating insects travel for several 100 metres in their search for nectar. However you may be unlucky, or you may live in an isolated rural area in which case you will need to provide your own pollinators ; when you purchase your tree ask the nursery or garden centre if the variety you have chosen is a triploid variety; if it is, then you will need two other varieties to ensure pollination …any variety will do, however if it is not a triploid then the chances are that the tree will be self pollinating, however two or more Apple trees are far better than one !

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