Apple Tree Care


Jennifer QuinnOne of the projects on my to-do list was to give some care to the three neglected apple trees on my new “homestead.” Last year I was so busy with other things I didn’t have time to think about them, and I guess I just assumed they’d produce apples without any help on my part. Wrong. As it turned out, they had only a handful of blossoms between the three of them, and didn’t produce any fruit that I noticed. I did see a number of large webs in them later, and someone suggested that maybe webworms were the problem, because they eat the blossoms. By that time I thought it was too late to do anything about that, but this year two of the trees are already blooming quite nicely.

During the winter I had looked up apples in my Rodale Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, and discovered that you’re supposed to thin the apples to one in each cluster; otherwise they may not produce at all the next year. I’m sure nobody did that the year I bought the place, so that could be a big part of the problem.

I also noticed that one of the trees was seriously in need of pruning – it was full of dead wood and was all a tangled mess. That tree is also leaning at a 45-degree angle and growing into one of the other trees, which I thought was bad for the health of both trees. I considered just having it cut down, but I noticed there were a lot of promising buds on it, so I opted for thinning it instead, cutting it away from the other tree as much as possible. I had quite a pile of thinnings when I was finished, which I might use in one of my hugelkultur beds at some point.

Last week I cleared some of the weeds and grass under two of the trees and hoed the soil a bit, since I thought it might need some improvement. Some of it was just red clay, so I added a little Premium Planting Mix and worked that in a bit without digging in too deeply. Then I took all my almost-finished compost (my compost never gets finished for some reason!) and put that around the trees, topping it with the just-cut weeds for another layer of mulch.

Apple trees with compost 

Apple trees mulched

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