Apple Trees – Growing, Care & Pruning

Apple Trees – Growing, Care & Pruning

Apple Trees – An Easy Way To Boost Your Health

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

That might sound like a terrible cliché, but planting apple trees in your garden is actually one of the best ways to make sure you and your family are happy and healthy.

Planting apple trees would be an amazing way to increase your home growth diet without having to spend unlimited amounts of time on your garden.

Apple trees are easy to grow if you follow the instructions carefully, and after they are established they can almost take care of themselves.

History Of Apples

Apple Trees - Growing, Care & Pruning

The Ancient Greeks and Romans believed apples to be aphrodisiacs, and for the Celts, crab apples were a symbol of fertility. In the Middle Ages, the cult of the apple continued in such customs as apple-bobbing at Hallowe’en and wassailing at Christmas.

Apples have been eaten since prehistoric times when only wild crab apples existed. The Romans adored apples and were the first people to cultivate the fruit; by the first century AD, they were growing at least a dozen types of apple trees throughout the Roman Empire.

The most famous of all apple-growers was the nineteenth-century English nurseryman, Thomas Laxton. With his sons, he hybridized hundreds of types of apple trees, many of which still exist today and bear his name.

The Pilgrim Fathers introduced apples to the New World, planting pips that they had taken with them from England. They proved so popular that in the eighteenth century John Chapman (popularly known as “Johnny Appleseed”) planted apple orchards across about 10,000 square miles of North America, using discarded apple pips from cider-making plants.

A century later, apple-growing in Australia took off when Mrs. Maria Smith cultivated the first Granny Smith in her garden in Sydney.

Apple Varieties

With over 7,000 named varieties of apples, it would be impossible to list more than a tiny fraction. In any case, only about a dozen types of apple trees are readily available in the shops, although nurseries can supply many more to people who wish to grow apples in their gardens.

Eating Apples

  • Ashmead’s Kernel These late variety apples were first cultivated in Gloucestershire in the seventeenth century. Their flesh has a good acid/sugar balance and develops a strong, spicy, aniseed flavor in some seasons.
  • Beauty of Bath A beautiful small, flattish, green apple extensively flushed with red, with sharp, sweet, juicy flesh. Beauty of Bath apples should be eaten straight from the tree, as they rot almost as soon as they are picked. Consequently, you are unlikely to find this apple in the shops.
  • Blenheim Orange This apple was discovered growing out of a wall at Blenheim Palace in the nineteenth century and was named by permission of the Duke of Marlborough, but it also has sixty-seven synonyms! It is a dual-purpose apple, good for both eating and cooking.
  • Braeburn This crisp, juicy apple with smooth pale green skin, heavily flushed with red, makes excellent eating. Braeburn apples are only grown in the southern hemisphere, as they need plenty of daylight.
  • Cox’s Orange Pippin A greenish-yellow apple of medium size, with some orange-red russeting. The firm, crisp, juicy flesh of this sweet fruit, makes it one of the world’s best and most popular apples. Cox’s Orange Pippins are excellent for cooking as well as eating raw.
  • Discovery Bred from the Worcester Pearmain, Discovery was the first apple to be commercially grown in England. It is particularly attractive for its highly colored bright red skin and contrasting hard, crisp white flesh. Best eaten straight from the tree.
  • Golden Delicious Originally grown from a chance seedling in the USA, this conical, freckled, golden apple has become ubiquitous. At its peak, the cream flesh is juicy and crisp with a mild flavor; unfortunately most commercially grown Golden Delicious are sold when they are under-or over-ripe and are consequently tasteless and mealy in texture. Golden Delicious are suitable for cooking or eating.
  • Granny Smith First grown in Australia by the eponymous “Granny” Smith, this largish all-purpose apple is bright green, becoming yellow as it ripens. Usually sold under-ripe, it has firm, crunchy flesh and a tart flavor.
  • Orleans Reinette One of the best apples of all, this large orange-flecked russet has a rough skin, but juicy, sweet, aromatic flesh. Orleans Reinette is ideal for cooking or eating.
  • Spartan A Canadian apple raised in 1926 from McIntosh and Newton’s Pippin. It inherits tough skin from McIntosh but tastes highly aromatic with a floral perfume.

Cooking Apples

  • Bramley’s Seedling The nonpareil of cookers, this large, flattish green apple (sometimes flushed with red) has coarse, white, juicy, acid flesh which cooks into a frothy puree. Bramleys are perfect for baking or as the basis for apple sauce.
  • Grenadier An irregularly shaped conical apple with yellow skin. The acid flesh is faintly green, firm, and juicy. It breaks down during cooking. Grenadiers do not keep well.
  • Howgate Wonder This apple can grow to an enormous size – in 1997, the world record was achieved with a specimen weighing 1.6kg/3 lb 14oz! The juicy white flesh breaks up during cooking and has an uninspiring flavor, so this variety is grown mainly for an exhibition.
  • Reverend W. Wilkes Very large conical apple with pale greenish-white skin. The fine, very white flesh is crisp, juicy, and acidic. The apple can be eaten raw but is best used as a cooker. It keeps well.

Uses for Apples

The most popular of all fruits, apples are also convenient, perfect for eating raw as a nutritious snack, and ideal for making into a multitude of hot and cold puddings and deserts – check out the apple recipe page for some delicious suggestions.

Nutritional value

Apples were once believed to be the most nutritious of fruits, giving rise to the saying that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. In fact, they have fewer vitamins than many other fruits (although they contain some vitamins C and A) but are high in pectin and are a good source of dietary fiber. They provide 52 calories per 100g/3¾oz

Buying and Storing

Choose apples with undamaged skins and never buy bruised fruits. If possible, smell the fruits to determine their fragrance (not easy if they are pre-bagged!) and squeeze gently to ensure they are firm. Do not be too seduced by the skin color of an apple; those gorgeous-looking specimens with thick, vivid red, waxy skins often have woolly, tasteless flesh.

Apples continue to ripen after they have been picked, so their color and texture may change during storage. For short-term storage, they can be kept in a ventilated polythene bag in the fridge. To store pick-your-own apples, wrap each one in newspaper and place folded side down in a single layer in wooden or fiber trays. Keep in a cool, dry, dark place and check occasionally to make sure none has gone rotten. Bad fruit will taint all the others, so remove it immediately.

Where To Plant Apple Trees

Apple Trees - Growing, Care & Pruning

Growing different types of apple trees can help you produce a good yield of fruit, provided you plant them in appropriate locations, choose the best variety for your weather conditions, and keep an eye on the weather.

Apple trees aren’t reserved for those with large plots of land. It is possible to grow dwarf apples in a small area and have a successful harvest. Trees with dwarf rootstocks generally never surpass 8-10 feet in height.

Apples are easily available right off the tree without having to plant an orchard. Two trees will produce enough fruit for any family to use, share, and enjoy. No matter how limited your space is, you probably have room for two apple trees.

Apple Trees must be pollinated by another apple variety in order to produce fruit. If you are planning to plant only one tree in your yard, there may be apples in your neighborhood that provide your tree with the pollen it needs.

More often than not, the reason apple trees produce poorly or do not bear any fruit is due to the fact there isn’t a pollinating variety. Some types of apple trees have the ability to self-pollinate, which means that after they have matured your tree will start bearing apples without the need for another variety of apple pollen.

If you intend to plant an apple tree as part of your garden, you ought to carefully assess whether the trees will grow well in your area. There are many types of apple trees that can be grown in temperate climates and, consequently, there are suitable options for the majority of temperate areas. Although apple trees can do well in some areas they will need a suitable environment in order to thrive and develop well.

Ideally, apple trees will be located near a sunny, sheltered, but not overly cold spot, away from pockets of frost. In order for the trees to thrive and maintain a healthy canopy, they need a spot that receives the most sunlight, but they will also tolerate some shade and will actually benefit from shade if a large portion of the shadow falls on them during the hottest time of the year. However, you need to make sure that apple trees always get at least half a day’s sunlight during the fruit ripening periods.

When To Plant Apple Trees

When planting apple trees, it is best to do it during their dormant phase, which is between late fall and early spring. Choose a dry and sunny day when planting, where the temperature stays cool and dry, otherwise, a lot of pests will be roaming about. You probably are aware that roots must not be exposed to temperatures below freezing. Soil is typically fine for the planting as long as it remains workable.

Once your apple tree has been ordered and has been delivered, or you have brought it home, you should plant it right away. Your apple tree should be planted out as early as possible, and not be left to dry out.

How To Plant Apple Trees

First of all, you need to decide where you want to plant apple trees so that you can get started. Once you have chosen where you would like to place it, the next step is to prepare the area where it will be planted. In order to reduce competition on newly planted plants, clear an overgrown area well before planting the tree.

Apple trees require fertile soil for their good growth; so, before you plant your trees, get a soil analysis (including an analysis of the pH) of the site. The ideal soil pH range for apple trees is 6.0-7.0, so if your soil PH is in this range, you’re set – this range is ideal for planting apple trees. You should check out the established trees and plants around the site to make sure they are growing well and that they look healthy. This information will help give you some idea of what is doing well in the area and I’m sure will help you in growing your own plants.

Before You Plant Apple Trees

The roots of the apple tree should be soaked for one to two hours in a bucket or tub of water. As a result, the roots are less likely to dry out while you dig the planting hole. You should not soak roots for longer than six hours.

A bare hole should be dug, which should be deep and wide enough for the root system to extend and grow freely as it takes time for the trees to establish themselves and start to produce blooms. The topsoil, which is richer in nutrients, should be kept in a separate pile, being extremely good for the ground and able to be used in the bottom part of the hole.

Topsoil can be loosened with peat moss, compost, or aged manure. The best type of peat moss you should use is either baled sphagnum or granular peat. You must take into consideration that peat has a low pH, so its use may affect the pH of the soil around the roots.

Plant Apple Trees

Make sure the roots of the apple tree are spread out and remain deep in the planting hole. The trunk must be held upright as you backfill the hole, ensuring that the topsoil is backfilled first. As you fill the planting hole around your apple tree, be careful not to create air pockets, so work the soil carefully around the roots of the tree and tamp it down firmly so it won’t move.

Put a rim of soil about 2 inches in height around a planting hole if the apple tree is planted on a slope. These are called “berms”, and they are designed to help soak water in where it belongs and keep it from streaming off into the surrounding environment, causing soil erosion. It is best to spread mulch and soil evenly around the apple tree in the fall until the tree has had an opportunity to begin growing. Otherwise, this can lead to damage caused by water accumulating and a resulting injury from freezing in the fall into the winter.

After Planting

The new apple trees need to be watered thoroughly. This must be done with around a gallon of water. A deep soaking would work best. If you are preparing to plant in the fall, do not make any fertilizer applications until the spring. If the soil sinks into the planting hole after watering, simply refill the hole to ground level with more soil to bring it up to the ground level.

Around your tree’s root zone, apply a 2-3 inch thick layer of organic material, like wood mulch. Mulching provides fertile soil for plants of a thick enough texture to block up weed growth while also keeping water in the ground from rapidly evaporating. Add a double layer of mulch in the fall for winter protection, and your apple tree will be protected against the harsh winter weather.


How To Take Care Of Apple Trees

Apple Trees - Growing, Care & Pruning

During the initial stages of the apple tree’s growth, it is very important that the tree be watered properly and do not compete with grass around the base of the tree. Planting a tree requires careful preparation of the surrounding area, as well as proper mulching of the tree’s base for best results. During the tree’s young age, it is especially important to water the tree and mulch it with organic material.

How To Prune Apple Trees

The best time to prune apple trees is during the dormant period. This season usually falls between the months of November and March in the Northern Hemisphere. Prune apple trees before leaf fall and before the sap crests in the spring in order to maintain a healthy crop.

The exact timing of when this will happen is dependent on where you live, and the conditions and circumstances that are going to occur where you live. As the weather changes year to year, the timing of such events will also vary according to the climate in your area, as well as according to the local weather conditions.

You should prune apple trees right after winter has passed but before the spring. It increases the chance that your apple trees will not suffer from any disease or rot because of the winter pruning cuts.

If you decide to prune apple trees, don’t forget to trim all dead, damaged, or diseased wood. You can also prune them to stand upright against a wall if there is very little room for apple trees in your garden.

One of the main reasons why you want to prune apple trees is to maintain their health and vitality. The more healthy branches you have, the more fruit your tree will bear at the end of the season. A moderate canopy reduction can also help your apple trees stay healthier by encouraging them to concentrate more on growing fruit rather than unnecessary foliage. You can also encourage a healthy harvest by thinning the canopy and making it easier for sunlight to reach the heart of the tree as well.

You can also prune apple trees to reduce their size. It may be due to the fact that they may be outpacing their own local limited resources, thus challenging them to find alternative options. We may also do this in our own self-interest – to keep our homes’ windows open or to reduce the shade cast on surrounding trees.

The final reason to prune apple trees has to do with the trees’ shape. If you want your apple trees in a small garden, they can make low hedges, fan shapes, or be planted against walls. When growing apple trees in your own backyard, it is usually better to leave the shape of each tree to develop completely on its own. However, in certain situations, pruning may provide a useful solution for you.

Why Not Grow Apple Trees From Seed?

Reproduction of apples from a specific variety of seeds results in apples that are almost certain to differ from the parent. You can have lots of fun and try new things, but not all results will be as expected.

Read more about that:

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