Apples are one of the easiest fruits to grow and are the favourite of gardeners. The thousand or so types fall into the following main categories:
- Cookers: used for cooking.
- Dessert: used for eating.
- Dual purpose: can be both cooked and eaten.
Although this fruit needs little maintenance after being established, here are some tips you should follow:
- Water the trees during dry weather conditions
- Water the trees once the fruits start swelling (For watering the plants, you can place a seep hose or drip line under the trees).
- Apply one handful per square meter/yard high potassium fertiliser (Vitax Q4) for trees in the ground and 1.5 handfuls around tress established in growing grasses.
- Prune the fruit trees every year to get maximum yield.
Planting apples is a good investment of time. Are you also the one who wants to plant a tree in your garden? Sowing from pips is time-consuming. So, we suggest you buy named cultivars from renowned nurseries. You will find ready young trees for planting.
You must choose a sunny and sheltered site for your trees. And make sure there are no frost pockets near the place where you plant the tree. Avoid planting in shallow soils.
You will find these trees in two forms in the market:
- Bare-root stock: the roots of the plants will be exposed. You can plant them starting from autumn to early spring.
- Containerised plant: the roots of the plants will be in containers. You can plant throughout the winter, which is preferred.
How to plant apples in the ground:
For planting the plants, follow the following instructions:
- Spread the plant’s roots on the garden ground to measure the size of the hole you need.
- Dig a hole. Make sure it’s deep enough to cover the roots. Moreover, ensure that the diameter of the holes is three times more than the root system.
- Break the hard soil around the hole with a fork
- Place the apple plant in the hole.
- Fill the ground tightly in the hole. Make sure that there are no air pocket between the plant roots. Step on the earth gently to firm it.
Plant apples in containers
You can’t grow every plant in the container. Therefore, you must choose a species that is grown for containers.
Below are some tips that you need to follow for planting the plants in the container:
- Ensure that the plants you’re choosing are grafted onto a container rootstock. “M26” rootstocks are best for containers.
- Choose a plant that has a diameter of 18-20 inches.
- Place crocks pieces in the container bottom to retain moisture.
- Apply compost. John Innes No,3 compost is the ideal compost for apple plants. You can also choose multipurpose compost mixed with grit.
You will see ripen apples on the trees from late summer to late autumn. Of course, the exact time for fruit ripening depends on the variety of apples you’re plating. But how would you know apples are ripe? Here’re ways to test the apples.
- Taste the fruit.
- Check if there’re apples on the ground. Windfalls indicate the apples are ripe.
- Ensure that apples are swollen to the correct size and changed their colour
The next question is how to pick the fruit?
- Grab one in your hands
- Lift them gently
- Twist it slightly
- Make sure the fruit comes off the tree with an intact stalk.
Store the apples
The right conditions ensure the storage of these fruit for one or two months. You can store some other fruiting varieties for several months. However, storage of early-ripening types is not possible. You should eat them within one to two days of picking.
Here’re some tips you must follow to store these fruits.
- Store fresh and perfect fruits
- Choose cool (with temperature 2-5°C) and dark places for storage. You can ideally choose a shed, cellar or garage for storage.
- Ensure proper ventilation for the fruits. Therefore, store them in plastic or slatted wooden boxes or crates.
- Ensure enough space between each of the fruits.
- Monitor the fruits regularly to see if any fruit is rotted.
Fungus is the primary cause of scabs. Apple scab firstly appears as dark green patches on leaves. Then, these patches turn into black or brown corky scabs on the fruit surface.
Light attacks cause damage to the skin. Besides, it also affects the eating quality severely. But, on the other hand, severe attacks result in fruit splits.
You can prevent the disease from spreading by the following ways:
- Burn the infected fruit
- Prune the infected shoots and stems
Apple blossom is the place where the sawfly lays eggs. Their larvae produce scars like patterns on fruit skin upon hatching.
Remove the infected fruitlets.
It is also a fungal disease that gets worse in humid summer conditions. It appears as brown rot, which progresses into white fungal pustules on the plant surface.
Destroy the rotten fruit to avoid its spread
It’s not a disease or pest. But it’s a physiological issue. You can identify the bitter pit by the presence of
- Holes on the fruit surface
There are two significant reasons for its appearance
- Lower calcium level
- Erratic watering
Below are some tips that will help you to prevent the bitter pit;
- Feed and water the plants correctly and in time throughout the growing season
- Apply general purpose fertiliser
- Never apply excessive feeding
- Apply mulch to help the plants retain soil moisture
- Prune the plants in summer
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