If you are looking to add new style and flavor to your backyard this spring, than you should consider planting an old fashion apple tree. One of the best things about the springtime is the great abundance of fresh fruit and what better way to contribute to nature’s birth than by planting one of America’s favorite plants.
I will help you plant the perfect apple tree by giving you great tips and step-by-step instructions. You will find that planting an apple tree is not only fun but it is also rewarding.
The first step to planting your apple tree is to scope out the best area to place your plant. This spot should be an in area where the soil is rich and well drained and gets plenty of sunlight. The best place would be where the tree can get a good abundance of early morning sun and good air circulation. This will help to reduce an occurrence of powdery mildew disease; which is a common fungal disease of angiosperms. This is called powdery mildew because the mycelium of the fungus growing on the leaves, stems and flowers appears as a white powdery substance.
The best time to plant your tree, if you live in the North, would be during the spring, however, if you live in the South, the best time would be to plant your tree during the fall. The reason that Southerners should plant their trees in the fall is because the roots of the tree will have been established by the time that springtime rolls around. This will give your tree a head start blooming.
The next step to planting your apple tree will be to clear out all of the weeds and grass from the area. You should form a bare circle for each transplant, about 4 ft in diameter.
After you have the area where you would like to plant your tree prepared, the next step is to go to a nursery and pick out an apple tree. When buying an apple tree from a nursery you should look for bare-root stock that is about one year old. You should avoid planting apple trees that are more than three years old because younger trees are much easier to maintain.
Once you get the tree home, than you must keep its roots very moist before and after putting it into the ground. You should soak the tree’s roots in water for at least 30 minutes before the initial planting takes place. If the roots seem to be very dried out, than the best option is to let the roots soak for about 24 hours so that they will be rejuvenated.
Now you are ready to begin digging a hole for your new tree. The hole that you will dig should be approximately twice the diameter of the root structure, and about a foot deeper than it also. When you feel that you have the depth of the hole just right, than spread out the roots in the hole to check the level of the “bud union” which is the point where a plant has been grafted. This is usually indicated by a little knoblike growth on a tree. You will want the bud union raised about 2 inches above the ground. Be careful not to place the bud union too low a level because this can cause crown rot; and you do not want the scion taking root and intervening the involvement of the rootstock.
Next you want to apply water as you are filling the hole back in with soil. This will help to remove any air pockets that might be present. Add soil amendments at the same time. This will be the best time to install a vole guard around the trunk of your apple tree. The guard should stick out about 10 inches above the ground. For best results, you should also place 2-3 inches of mulch around the plant so that weeds and grass will be restricted from growing back.
Now your tree is planted!! But you must remember that you have to maintain your tree by pruning it. The reason for pruning is to ensure that your tree is getting the best air circulation possible. If your tree is properly pruned and the air circulation is flowing freely through all the branches, than there is only a slight chance that you will have a problem with powdery mildew disease. Pruning will also help restrict the vertical growth of your apple tree.
Training your branches is also an important factor in maintaining your apple tree. This process is called, “spreading” your branches to form angles that will help them to radiate out from the trunk and be able to have strength to hold heavy loads of apples.
You must make sure that your tree does not overproduce apples. If you thin out your tree this will help to promote larger fruit sizes and improve the next year’s blooming by reducing the risks of limbs becoming weak and snapping. Thinning works by the blossom level and the branch level. Apple blossoms form clusters that can have five or six potential fruits. The best option would be to thin this out by leaving only one fruit when the baby apples have reached close to the size of a marble. At the branch level you should remove enough fruit so that all of the remaining apples are spaced at least 4-6 inches apart.
Insects will try to eat your apples so you should spray horticultural oil on your apple tree right after the full blooming process is over. And for best results you should continue to spray your tree every 10-14 days during the summer. This will help keep away scales, mites and aphids. If you want to fight off apple maggots, codling moths, green fruit worms and plum curculios you should check your local County Extension Office for the best pesticides to apply to your tree. Home Depot may be able to assist you with this too.
I send out the best wishes to the new growth of your very own apple tree. I hope that God-willing this will be very useful information for your new spring delight.