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The Art of Apple Tree Growing

The Art of Apple Tree Growing

If one has adequate space and time, growing apple trees can be a fun and very rewarding experience. The shade, fruit and beauty provided by apple trees should be arguments enough to try your hand at apple tree growing.

Choosing a Type of Apple Tree

There are many cultivated varieties of apple trees, called cultivars, which have been created with specific traits to ward off diseases while giving you the best odds for apple tree growing success. The first step in choosing your cultivar is to research what types are available in the geographic area which you are looking to plant in. Once you’ve narrowed down the list to geographically available types, then pick the one which presents the most attractive traits in terms of color, ripeness, blooming and ripening timelines.

Choosing the Best Size of Apple Tree

The amount of space that is available to plant your apple trees, and the total number you’re looking to plant, should dictate the size of the trees that you purchase. There are three main sizes of apple trees: dwarf, semi-dwarf and normal. Dwarf trees are the easiest to manage since they are the smallest, produce fruit earlier than the other types, and typically grow to ten feet in height. Unfortunately, one of the main downsides to dwarf trees is that they lack a solid root system, so additional support will probably be required for these trees. Semi-dwarf trees typically grow to fifteen feet in height, have a stronger root structure and produce fruit slightly before normal trees. Normal trees typically grow to twenty feet in height, have the strongest root structure and are the latest in producing fruit during the growing season.

Apple Tree Growing, Buying and Planting

There are three main options for procuring an apple tree. The first is to grow one from a seed into a full grown tree, which requires no up front capital, but also has a much higher risk of the seed not surviving the growing process. The second is to purchase from a mail order catalog, which is easier than growing from a seed and has significantly more cultivar options, but you’re limited to one year old seedlings, called whips, since older trees cannot be sent through the mail. Finally, the last option is to purchase a potted tree from a local greenhouse or gardening center, which is typically two to three years old, and transplant it into the ground yourself. This option provides the least amount of choices of cultivar type, but the highest likelihood of apple tree growing success. It is also the most expensive of the three options.

Assuming that you’ve either opted to grow a tree from a seed into a whip, or purchased one from a catalog, the next step is to plant the whip. You should aim to have procured the whip by March or early April and be prepared to plant it right away so the roots won’t dry out. First soak the roots in water for at least half of an hour. While this is happening, dig a hole large enough to fit the root structure inside, and shallow enough to ensure that the junction between the roots and the cultivar portion of the apple tree remains about two to three inches above the soil. Once the roots have soaked, place the apple tree into the hole and spread out the roots. Fill the hole with topsoil and finish by pouring two gallons of water around the whip. You should continue watering the whip with two to three gallons of water every two to three weeks. Finally, add mulch around the base of the whip to prevent weeds from growing up close to the stem.

In terms of spacing out the planted trees, a good rule of thumb is to plant dwarf trees eight feet apart and space out the rows by fourteen feet. Add two feet to each measurement for every tree size up you go.