Landscaping Tips: How to Grow Apples in Your Yard
Apple trees are somewhat slow to become established, but they often bear for many years when given good care. Fruit set is usually best when you plant more than one variety, and dwarf trees take up very little space. The spring blossoms are beautiful and often fragrant, and you can save the pruned wood for barbecue season.
Choose Varieties Right for Your Climate
Choose varieties right for your climate. Apples and many other fruits vary in how many hours of winter chilling they need before they bloom and produce fruits. Your local extension service can provide you with a list of apple varieties that are known to grow well in your area.
Rejuvenate an Old Apple Tree
To rejuvenate an old apple tree, prune it back into shape gradually by removing only one-third of the old, overgrown branches each winter for three years. Meanwhile, plant new dwarf trees nearby that will be pollinated by the flowers borne by the older tree.
Prune Young Apples
Young apples require pruning, so be prepared to do some cutting and sawing each winter, usually in February. Productive trees should have open forms so that their branches have space to develop and are bathed in sunshine. Most apples are trained to grow upright so a single main stem supports several long side branches.
Reduce Codling Moth Infestation
Reduce codling moth infestation by installing a collar of corrugated cardboard around the trunk of the tree. The larvae will nest in the cardboard. Remove it periodically, dispose of it in the garbage, and then replace it with a new collar. In the spring, rub loose scales of bark from the tree trunk to eliminate the crevices in which codling moth larvae can readily pupate.
Remove Excess Fruits
Thin out excess fruits as they develop so that those that remain will grow big and sweet. Thin right after the tree thins itself by shedding green fruits in early summer. Leave the largest and healthiest fruits alone-but remove even smaller ones less than 4 inches (10 cm) from the biggest ones.
Watch for Dimpled Apples
Apples that are dimpled and tunneled with brown trails show signs that apple maggots, or railroad worms, have been at work. Trap egg-laying female maggots by hanging red tennis balls coated with commercial insect adhesive in your trees. Use one ball per dwarf tree and four to eight per full-size tree. Hang them at eye level, just within the canopy but not obscured by leaves.
Make a Homemade Picker
Make a homemade picker. Cut a V shape into the rim of an old 2-pound (1-kg) coffee can, bending the points slightly inward so they will grab the fruit. Lay a piece of carpet or foam in the bottom of the can as a cushion for the fruit, then nail or wire the can to a broomstick or pole.
Fresh Apples for Months
Apples will stay fresh for months provided they have enough moisture and are kept a few degrees above freezing. Put the fruit into plastic bags in which you’ve poked a few holes and store in the refrigerator.
Dry some apples for healthy, tasty snacks. Dry some apples for healthy, tasty snacks. First, core the apples. Slice them into thin rounds, dip them in lemon juice to keep them from turning brown, and run a string through the center of each round. Tack the ends of the string to the ceiling of your pantry. After the slices are thoroughly dry, store them in plastic bags.