This week our gardening columnist Gareth Austin gives his readers the basics and tips for planting apple trees.
On my travels this week I was stopped and asked when was the best time to set a few apple trees? I get very repetitive in my answers sometimes, as I always reply, “The best time to plant is when you’ve spare time”.
Traditionally in horticulture, you planted when there was an ‘R’ in the month, this was linking to ‘off peak’ growing times for garden plants.
Now, I’ll not disagree and I’ll say that September to March is the best time to plant apples but with the popularity and increasing availability of apple trees in pots, many folks choose the warmer sunnier times of years to do planting – this works well as long as you have the time to ensure that those same trees get regularly watered.
Planting off-peak does save you a lot of initial watering and the plants can concentrate on growing roots and settling in before the drier conditions come along.
For anyone planning on setting a few apples there are a few considerations:
What type to plant? – Well, what do you like to eat? A few cookers give a typical house enough for the necessary apple pies/crumbles and the likes and then make sure the rest are sweet, tasty eaters.
When’s your last frost date? – If you are in a frost pocket any early flowering trees will have their blossomed damaged and will result in no fruit.
What type of soil do you have? – You can source apple trees on many different root-stocks, these control the vigour of the tree.
If you have poorer soil it’s worth planting a more vigorous tree – thus the vigour can help to balance out the poorer soil.
How many to plant? – Well, how many apples would you like to eat/use?
A nice wee area of six trees will give a good amount of apples in a few years time. When you go into the 12+ tree category, you’re into the juicing realm or into storing these (I use old chest freezers).
Where to plant? – We’ve chatted before about growing apple trees against walls and fences and this is a great way of bringing colour and production against a wall.
If you’re planting in open ground just ensure that the trees aren’t getting the full force of any wind but that the area is still open. Spacing wise in open ground – 4-5m is close enough.
Where to get them from? – All our local garden centres will have great stocks of trees going through the autumn and winter, and this is a great start.
These outlets will offer common varieties which perform well in local areas, and will all be suitable for cross-pollination.
If you go to more specialist outlets just remember you have to make sure that the varieties you get cross-pollinate each other.
If you have five early flowering and one late flowering then the late flowering laddie will never get pollinated – so always worth asking!
Recently we planted a fabulous range of heritage apple trees – all pre-1900’s varieties and we sourced these from the Heritage Fruit Tree Nursery in Leitrim, so if you’re into that sort of thing give them a call.Tags: