The apple is a hardy, deciduous woody perennial tree that grows in all temperate zones. Apples grow best where there is cold in winter, moderate summer temperatures, and medium to high humidity.
There are apples for fresh eating, some for cooking, and some for preserving. Some apples are sweet and some are tart. Some apples come to harvest in summer, some in autumn.
Apple trees bloom in the spring, set fruit, and take from 100 to 200 days to reach harvest depending upon the variety. Here is your complete guide to growing apple trees.
Apple Planting Step-by-Step
– Prepare a planting site in full sun that is sheltered from a prevailing breeze or wind. Work well-rotted compost or manure into the soil and add a cupful of all-purpose fertilizer to the bottom of the hole.
– Dig a hole half again as deep and twice as wide as the tree’s roots.
– Put a tree stake in place before planting. Drive the stake into the ground to the side of the hole to at least 2 feet deep.
– Set the tree in the hole so that the soil mark on the stem is at the surface level of the surrounding soil. Remove all twine and burlap from balled and burlapped trees. Spread the roots out in all directions.
– Re-fill the hole with half native soil and half aged compost or commercial organic planting mix; firm in the soil so that there are no air pockets among the roots. Water in the soil and create a modest soil basin around the trunk to hold water at watering time.
– Secure the tree to the stake with tree ties.
– After planting, water each tree thoroughly and fertilize with a high-phosphorus liquid starter fertilizer.
Apple Care, Nutrients, and Water
– Newly planted apple trees require moderate watering weekly. Set the water on low and allow it to seep into the soil; roots will follow deep watering and become well established.
– An established apple tree requires only infrequent watering but be sure to water all trees during prolonged dry periods.
– Feed apples with a mulch of aged compost applied liberally around the base of the tree once or twice a year, in spring or in late fall after leaves have dropped.
– Feed an apple tree a half-pound of balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer for each year the tree has been alive to a maximum of 10 pounds per tree per year.
– Low levels of potassium, calcium, or boron can reduce growth and fruit quality. Test the soil for its nutrient content. Spread gypsum on the soil to raise the calcium level.
– Yields can be improved with a foliar feeding of seaweed extract when buds begin to show color, again after petals fall, and once again when fruits are less than 1 inch in diameter.
– A young apple tree will grow 12 to 24 inches in a year. A mature, fruit-bearing apple tree will grow 8 to 12 inches each year.
– Harvest patiently. After all this pruning and caring, be sure to harvest your apples at their peak of perfection.
– Pluck your apples when their background color is no longer green.
– The stem should part readily from the branch when the fruit is cupped in the palm of your hand and given a slight twist around, then up (do not yank on the apple).
– Different apple varieties mature at different times, so the harvest season can stretch from August to October. If the apple is overripe and soft, use for cooking!
– Most apples can be stored for a month or two if given in the right conditions, and some later-fruiting varieties can keep well for several months. Early-ripening varieties aren’t generally suitable for storing, as they often need to be eaten within a day or two of picking.
– Only store perfect fruits that show no signs of damage. Store them in a dark, cool place, at 2–5°C (35–41°F). A cellar is ideal, and a shed or garage is the next best option. A slightly humid atmosphere helps to preserve the fruit.
– Good ventilation is important, so place the apples in slatted wooden or plastic crates or boxes, spacing them so they don’t touch each other. They can be also wrapped in paper to prevent contact.
– Check the stored fruits regularly, removing any showing signs of deterioration or rot.
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Video source: TRUE FOOD TV