Apples trees (small)

Rating: 3.0
July Wk 4

The development of smaller-growing varieties has seen apples – which had somewhat fallen out of favour – beginning to regain their popularity in home gardens.

Many apple varieties can now be found grafted onto a dwarfing rootstock. Others, such as ‘Ballerina’, have a columnar habit that means they take up far less space in the garden. And while the tress may be smaller, the good news is that the fruit is full size so you can have the delicious taste of your own apples even in a relatively small section.

Winter’s a good time to buy apple trees, either from local plant suppliers, through the internet or by mail order.

Apples do best in cool to cold climates so, if you’re in a coastal or subtropical area, consider growing an ornamental crabapple instead. ‘Jack Humm’, one of the most popular crabapples, produces bright red fruit.

For maximum cropping, fruiting apples must have another variety that flowers at the same time and is within bee-travelling distance. This could deter many space-challenged gardeners, but the problem can be solved by selecting a double-grafted tree (two varieties on the one set of roots), or by planting two small growers into virtually the same hole.

Apples grow best in an open, sunny, well-drained position, with soil that’s been enriched with compost, old manure and Magamp long-lasting fertiliser. Water in well after planting, adding some Yates Nature’s Way Seaweed Booster to encourage root growth.

Fertilise established apple trees in early spring, just as they start to make new growth, and again in mid-summer. Thrive granular Citrus Food has a fruit-promoting balance of nutrients.

Codling moth is the number one problem for then heads down the trunk to find a place to build its cocoon. During this migrating period it can be trapped in corrugated cardboard bands wrapped around the tree trunk. This will control many of the caterpillars, but not those already inside the apple. Picking up all fallen fruit is critically important.

A winter spray with Conqueror Oil will kill the over-wintering eggs of many pests, and a pre-spring application of copper- and sulphur-based Yates Nature’s Way Fungus Spray will help control some common diseases. Nasturtiums or lavender planted under the trees are said to deter many pests.

Dwarf apples need less pruning than the old varieties. Cutting back long shoots and opening the centre to the sun may be all that’s required. Protect cuts with Bacseal.


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