Photo by Elise (Flickr)
Have you always wanted to grow your own apples, but weren't sure where to begin? Even if you don't have the greenest thumb, it's easier than you think! Whether you want to start from apple seeds, or plant a full grown one in your yard, here are a few things you need to know before you get started.
If you are going the replanting route, then going to your local nursery should be your first step. Learning which apple trees grow best in your area is important because not all will flourish in every climate, so it's good to know which ones work best in your neck of the woods. It is also important to realize that apple trees do best when they are planted in the early spring, so deciding when you want to start planting is a key factor in how well your trees will do.
Most apple trees must cross-pollinate in order to bear fruit, so grabbing more than one type of apple tree at your nursery will be necessary in most cases. While bees and other plants can help to pollinate your apple tree, its best to have two types to be sure your tree will bear fruit. When deciding what size or age apple tree to buy, remember that replanting a younger tree such as a dwarf or semi dwarf will be easier and will have fruit quicker than a normal size tree. Keep in mind the amount of space in your yard and the amount of light they will get; most apple trees need to get 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.
Once you have gotten your trees, you will need to prep your soil by getting rid of weeds and other plants that may interfere with your trees growing. You don't want to plant too close to forests or wooded areas, because animals will more likely get to your apple trees and cause damage. In most cases, digging a 2 foot deep hole and making the hole about two times the size of the tree's root ball (or container it was previously in) should be sufficient. Also remember that in order for your trees to cross-pollinate, they must not be more than 100 feet apart when you plant them. Keeping all this in mind will give you a better shot at having a healthy, fruit-bearing tree. After planting, be sure to add mulch to your newly planted apple tree. Be sure to never fertilize your young fruit tree. Fertilizing too soon can burn and damage the roots of your young plant. By adding mulch to the surrounding area of your plant base, your tree will retain water and moisture better. Watering your newly planted tree will be vital during the first and second growing season. Making sure to water your trees twice a week, without drowning them and just making the soil moist is important. If you see your leaves wilting or looking dry, watering more often might be necessary.
The last thing you need to remember is maintaining your trees once you've planted them in the ground. Although there isn't a laundry list of care instructions, there are still a few things you need to do to keep those apple trees kicking! Adding a trellis, or putting a post alongside your trees in the dirt, can be helpful as they grow to give them stability. After a few years it might be unnecessary, but in the beginning, having some extra support can be helpful. Until your tree has matured, doing minor maintenance will be your best bet. Getting rid of dead branches or fruit is fine, but don't begin cutting branches or doing any intense pruning until your trees have been growing for a few years.
If you are looking for an easier, kid-friendly project, then planting apple seeds at home is a fun activity for the family! All you'll need are a few apples, paper towels, a sandwich bag, and potting soil with pots. First, cut the apples down the center and get as many of the seeds as possible, leaving any that have been broken. Then, place the seeds on a plate or somewhere for a few days so they can dry out. Next, wet a few paper towels and stick the seeds inside them. You'll want to place them in a sandwich bag and put them in the refrigerator to allow the seeds to germinate. This part will probably take a few weeks, so keep an eye on them. Once the seeds have begun to sprout, the fun part begins! You can finally plant your baby seeds in pots. Be sure to water them daily and place them in a sunny area of your home. Once your seeds have grown to be about a foot in height, you can transplant them to your garden or yard and admire what you grew!
Choosing a Tree
- Choosing Your Tree
- Apples: Choosing Cultivars
- Best Fruit Tree Cultivars
- Apples and Pears in Minnesota Home Gardens
- Growing Fruit Trees in Maine - Selecting Varieties
- Growing New Fruit Tree Plants from Seed
- Planting Fruit Trees
- Planting and Care of Fruit Trees
- Fruit Trees: Planting and Care of Young Trees
- Growing Fruit Trees
Planting your Tree
- Moving & Replanting Fruit Trees
- Fruit Tree Aftercare
- Growing Apples
- The Planting Requirements for Semi-Dwarf Apple Trees
Apple Tree Maintenance
- Growing Apple Trees in the Home Garden
- Growing Apples in the Home Orchard
- Apple Trees Benefit from Proper Pruning
- Apple Tree Care Starts Now
- Apple Tree Care Throughout the Year
Growing an Apple Tree from a Seed