Archive for the ‘Fruits & Berries’ Category

Dwarf mature height is 6 to 8 feet with a spread of 2 to 3 feet.

Standard mature height is 20 to 40 feet with a spread of 15 to 25 feet.  Zones 3 through 7 (8), full sun in moist acidic soils.

Choosing an apple tree from the hundreds of choices can be a bit daunting if you don’t understand some basic issues.  In the first place, you need to have two different varieties of apple trees in order for each tree to be properly pollinated.  If your neighbor has an apple tree, then you can get by with buying just one tree that is a different variety.  If you are going to plant dwarf trees, two, three or even four varieties are a good choice because you will ensure good pollination and can extend the period in which you can harvest fruit by choosing trees with different ripening times.  Early ripening apples will ripen as early as in August, and late ripening apples may last until October and even November before they are ready to pick.

Another issue is the vulnerability of some varieties of apple to common apple tree diseases such as scab or fire blight.  Over the past twenty years a fair number of very disease resistant varieties have been developed, greatly reducing the amount of pesticide spraying needed to have healthy trees and good fruit.  At the same time, a number of products have been developed to reduce or even eliminate the need to spray for insect damage.  It has gotten to the point that deer and squirrels are more of a problem for home-grown apple trees than insects and disease.  Deer and squirrel damage can be prevented with the use of animal repellents or even physical barriers.

Some Good Choices

Redfree is one of the best eating early apples.  Like most early season varieties, it should be eaten soon after it ripens, as it has a short shelf-life.  Redfree is immune to apple scab and cedar apple rust and is moderately resistant to fire blight and powdery mildew.

Liberty is an early to mid-season variety that ripens in early September.  It is resistant to the “big four” diseases—apple scab, cedar apple rust, fire blight, and powdery mildew.  This medium sized round fruit has red stripes with greenish undercolor.  Its flesh is nearly white and very crisp.  Liberty can be eaten fresh, used in cooking (sauces, pies, baking), and freezing.  This apple can be stored from three to six months, and flavor intensifies in storage.

Jonafree displays attractive glossy red apple and has some resistance to diseases, such as apple scab, cedar apple rust, and fire blight.  Usually eaten fresh, Jonafree’s flavor is similar to Jonathan’s but is slightly less acidic and mildly tart.  This apple ripens mid-season.

Empire is a cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious and takes on the best characteristics of both.  Some claim that empire’s flavor improves during storage.  Empire ripens in mid-season.  It is not particularly disease resistant, so will need some spraying to prevent problems.

Enterprise is extremely resistant to apple scab, cedar apple rust and fire blight, but only moderately resistant to powdery mildew.  The flesh of its fruit is cream colored and crisp with a medium-fine texture.  It has a spicy aroma and tastes mildly tart.  Enterprise fruit ripens in mid-October and can be kept five to six months if refrigerated.

Honeycrisp produces fruit which is mostly orange-red with a yellow background.  This extremely crisp, juicy, sweet apple has a rich flavor that has made it place first in taste panels. Honeycrisp blooms mid-season.  The fruit has a two-week harvest window and stores well.  Honeycrisp is moderately resistant to apple scab and fire blight.

Macoun apples have snow-white flesh that is very crisp and juicy.  Their honey-like sweetness makes up for their mild flavor.  Great for eating fresh, or in salads and fruit cups, macoun apples also makes good applesauce.  Unfortunately macoun is a poor keeper—it gets soft and loses flavor in storage.   Fruit ripens in mid to late season.

For all info you need to grow apples go to our website www.yardener.com.


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Folks don’t plant apple trees in their yard as often as they did a few generations ago.  While we can now buy a fair number of apple varieties in the grocery store all year round, none of them taste as good as an apple grown at home.  Homegrown fruits have a better texture and a better flavor, and millions of Americans plant tomatoes each year for this reason.  Yet many people may not be aware that two dwarf apple trees will take up about the same amount of room the yard as two tomato plants, will take about the same time to care for, and will produce a similar number of fruits per plant.

The reason for the apple tree’s relative unpopularity these days might be that most of us can remember grandma or a neighbor having a huge old apple tree in the back yard that took an enormous amount of work to care for.  While a large amount of apples could be harvested from these trees you still ended up with lots of fruits rotting on the ground, attracting yellow jackets and making a mess.  Another concern might be the trouble with having to spray an apple tree with pesticides.  What home gardeners today might not appreciate is that these problems have been greatly minimized.  With today’s new varieties of apple trees, it is not difficult to grow apples in the backyard and you do not need much space to grow them.

Small is in.  While the standard apple tree can be 20 feet high and 15 feet wide, the dwarf and mini-dwarf trees available today grow to be only 6 to 8 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide.  Any variety of apple can be grafted on to a dwarf root stock.  Stark Brother’s Nursery has even developed an apple tree they call the “Colonnade,” which has 6 to 10 inch branches growing off a single stem, reaching only about eight feet tall at maturity—now that is about as compact as an apple tree can get.  Besides space conservation, there are other advantages to having a dwarf apple tree: it is much easier to care for in terms of pruning time, spraying time, fertilizing and watering.

In my opinion, the fruit production on a dwarf tree is much more suited to the home landscape than larger varieties.  A mature dwarf tree will give you 20 to 30 apples a year.  This means that you can easily choose the number of apple trees you want to plant according to a fairly specific sense of how many apples you would like to produce.  You can ensure that you grow enough fruit, and at the same time, you do not have to worry about surplus apples rotting on the ground.  If you have three or four varieties, you will be harvesting at least 100 fresh, tasty apples; more than most of us eat in a year!

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