Apples trees aren’t just for people with acres upon acres of land. Even in a small space, you can plant a hedge of dwarf apple trees or an apple espalier and yield a successful crop.
Not every apple grows everywhere. Each variety has a specific number of days needed for fruit maturity.
Tree tags don’t always tell you where the variety grows best, but many catalogs do.
Each variety has several chill hours needed to set fruit (i.e., the amount of time temperatures is between 32 and 45 degrees F).
Site and Soil
Soil tests prior to planting your apple trees is very important. Experts can instruct you in collecting the soil sample, help you interpret the results, and provide valuable information about the soil in your village. Results from the soil test will determine the soil amendments necessary to correct nutrient deficiencies and adjust soil pH. The amendments should be worked into the soil to a depth of 12 to 18 inches where the tree will root, not just the planting hole.
Apple trees need well-drained soil, nothing too wet. Soil needs to be moderately rich and retain moisture as well as air; mulch with straw, hay, or some other organic material to keep soil moist and provide nutrients as they decompose.
Choose a sunny site. For best fruiting, an apple-tree needs “full sunlight,” which means six or more hours of direct summer sun daily.
Tree spacing is influenced by the rootstock, soil fertility, and pruning. Seedlings or full-size trees should be planted about 15 to 18 feet apart in a row. A dwarfing rootstock might be 4 to 8 feet apart in a row.
Dwarf apple trees are notoriously prone to uprooting under the weight of a heavy crop, so you should provide a support system for your hedge. You can grow your trees against a fence, or you can provide free-standing support in the form of a trellis.
Do not plant trees near wooded areas or trees.
Planting the Tree in the Ground
Before planting, remove all weeds and the grass in a 4-foot diameter circle.
After you purchase Our seedlings, protect it from injury, drying out, freezing, or overheating. If the roots have dried out, soak them in water about 24 hours before planting.
Dig a hole approximately twice the diameter of the root system and 2 feet deep. Place some of the loose soil back into the hole and loosen the soil on the walls of the planting hole so the roots can easily penetrate the soil.
– Spread the tree roots on the loose soil, making sure they are not twisted or crowded in the hole. Continue to replace soil around the roots. As you begin to cover the roots, firm the soil to be sure it surrounds the roots and to remove air pockets.
– Do not add fertilizer at planting time, as the roots can be “burned”. – Fill the remainder of the hole with the loose soil, and press the soil down well.
– All our apple trees are grafted. The graft union must be at least 2 inches above the soil line so that roots do not emerge from the scion.
– The graft union (where the scion is attached to the rootstock) can be recognized by the swelling at the junction.
Minimize Pruning of a Young Tree
Pruning slows a young tree’s overall growth and can delay fruiting, so don’t be in a hurry to prune, other than removing misplaced, broken, or dead branches. There are several techniques to direct growth without heavy pruning. For example:
Rub off misplaced buds before they grow into misplaced branches.
Bend a stem down almost horizontally for a few weeks to slow growth and promote branches and fruiting.
Tie down with strings to stakes in the ground or to lower branches.
Prune a Mature Tree Annually.
Once an apple tree has filled in and is bearing fruit, it requires regular, moderate pruning.
Prune your mature tree when it is dormant. Completely cut away overly vigorous, upright stems (most common high up in the tree).
Remove weak twigs (which often hang from the undersides of limbs.
Shorten stems that become too droopy, especially those low in the tree.
After about ten years, fruiting spurs (stubby branches that elongate only about a half-inch per year) become overcrowded and decrepit.
Cut away some of them and shorten others.
When a whole limb of fruiting spurs declines with age, cut it back to make room for a younger replacement.
Thin or remove excess fruit. This seems hard but this practice evens out production, prevents a heavy crop from breaking limbs, and ensures better-tasting, larger fruit crop.
Soon after fruit-set, remove the smallest fruits or damaged ones, leaving about four inches between those that remain.