Growing Apples at the Allotment

Growing Apples at the Allotment

Apples are a favourite fruit and easy to grow. They come in a wide range of varieties but there are two main types. Eating apples and cooking apples, which are what they say they are! It is of popular opinion that growing from seed takes too long. 

Bare root apple trees can be planted from November through to March when the tree is dormant and providing the ground is not too frozen to dig. You will need to dig a hole as deep as the roots in a sunny spot avoiding very wet soil and allow for roots to spread out in parameter. 

Your chosen location for your apple tree should not shade other crops, remember that they can grow very tall and wide! You may want to train your tree using supports or wiring. Some can even be grown in large containers. 
During Spring, feed them with some fertiliser that is rich in potassium, giving a generous amount to cooking apple varieties that are hungrier. 

Pruning should be done to encourage re-growth but when to do this will depend on your variety and when it was planted and so on. Generally, as a guide this is done early Spring but some you can do throughout the winter. Pruning helps the tree to produce a good crop, stay in good shape and allows air and sun to it. 
Watering is required throughout dry spells and when the fruit begins particularly for younger trees. Mature trees are more resilient. 

During the summer and into the autumn your apple tree will be laden with fruit, some will naturally fall off if they are not picked. You should also pick off deformed and smaller fruit to allow room for larger, healthier apples. 

Apples will pull off easily if they are ready and ripened. Not so easily if they are not ready. If you are unsure, one way of finding out is if the pips are brown inside. You should use fallen and bruised apples straight away. 

Ideally you need to store the apples in single layers where possible, inspecting your crop for any issues before contaminating your crop. Some varieties can last for months if they are stored correctly. They should not be touching and are best wrapped in some tissue paper or similar and kept in a cool place.  

There are so many differing varieties that you do need to check for your specific variety for planting, pruning, harvesting and storing and when to do it. 

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Growing Apples in Summary

Planting Apples

  • Plant bareroot trees during winter - early Spring
  • Offer a sunny, well drained spot
  • Add support/training

Popular Apple Varieties

  • M. Domestica - 'Scrumptious' is a mid-season dessert red apple and is a self-fertile, disease resistant good pollinator and produces heavy crops of red apples, even on young trees
  • M. Domestica - 'Discovery' is an early fruiting deciduous variety with bright crimson coloured fruits. Covered in white flowers throughout spring, followed by crisp, juicy dessert apples. 
  • M.Domestica - 'Howgate Wonder' does best in cooler but drier parts of the country. The fruit is very large, often enormous, with yellowish-green skin striped and flushed with brownish-red

Growing Apples

  • Add potassium rich fertiliser
  • Prune your trees to encourage re-growth
  • Water young trees during dry spells

Rootstocks for Apples

  • M27 is an ideal choice for a smaller garden or container growing. A plentiful yield, even during the first year. Expect approximately 20lbs per tree
  • M9 is a good dwarfing rootstock, ideal for cordon growing and you can expect approximately 30lbs yield per tree.
  • M26 is great in lighter soils and is easily managed with excellent yields once it is established

Harvesting Apples

  • Use fallen apples straight away
  • Pick when easily pulled, regularly
  • Store undamaged apples in single layers, without contact in a cool place

Common Problems with Apples

  • Aphids/greenfly - Can be whitefly, rosy apple aphid, greenfly and woolly aphid
  • Apple Scab - A funghal disease that affects both the leaves and fruit with brown and black spots; espeically in wet conditions
  • Canker - Affects the branches and trunks with lesions, particularly in wet conditions