Apples in the Garden (part 1 of 2)

Apples in the Garden (part 1 of 2)

When it comes to growing fruit, most people immediately think of apples. This is one quick decision that pays dividends because apples are generally easy to grow and very productive. A tree should start cropping within three years and then will produce apples for at least 50 years. Unlike pears, which need a sunny, sheltered spot, and plums, which flower so early their blossoms can be ruined so there is no crop, apples usually crop reliably and will grow in all but the soggiest and coldest areas. We grow fine apples here and the area is famous for its ‘Bramleys’.

Apples are highly adaptable and as well as trees, you can train young plants as ‘cordons’, single stems, planted at an angle of 45 degrees, that apple you to grow several varieties in a small area.

Autumn is a great time to plant an apple tree (or better, two) especially as there are lots of local apples around to try so you can taste before you plant. But before we get that far there are a couple of technical issues. In general, apple flowers will not pollinate themselves so you need to plant two different varieties in your garden so they can pollinate each other. Apples are usually put into ‘pollination groups’ from 1-4 but this is basically based on flowering time so plant two varieties in the same or adjacent groups so you know they will be in flowers at the same time.

Then there are rootstocks. To control the ultimate size of the trees the chosen variety is grafted onto roots that control the size. The origin of the names need not concern us but M9 is very dwarfing and the tree will only reach about 2.4m high. Much rarer is M25 which is vigorous and the tree may exceed 5m high when mature. Most trees are grown on M26 or MM106 which are semi-dwarfing, producing trees that will be about 3m high when mature.

Post written by our resident gardening guru Geoff Stebbings from www.thebikinggardener.com

Apples in the Garden (part 2 of 2)

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