Getting Old Trees in Shape + Adding New Ones
First post here, and sorry in advance, I'm sure it'll be long before I finish. I recently bought a home in central Wisconsin. I have about half an acre in back of my house that has nothing but grass growing in it. Near the property line I have three apple trees growing. I don't think they're full sized, but I'm not sure. I'm also not sure what type of apple they are, but those I tasted last fall were delicious and reminded me very much of honeycrisp. I'm guessing they're 15+ years old, though, and they're not in the greatest of condition. Two are ringed with woodpecker bore holes, and one has a small-fist sized hole in it. The leaves look good on all of them, though.
The two bad ones did not bloom this year, though I *think* they did last year. I was planning on pruning them up tomorrow so if they do bloom next year (and this year was really just a fluke due to an ill-timed freeze after a super early spring) they'll be in better condition. The one that did bloom now has apples ping-pong to golf-ball sized. I was going to do light pruning on that to get more air in there and to make spraying easier.
Does that sound like a good idea? Does it hurt to do a little more intensive prune this late with the trees that aren't fruiting?
In any event I've decided that I'm going to put five to ten more trees in this year. The ground is a little low and clay soil, however, so it's not optimal. I am going to run drain tile through the area I'm planting in to enhance drainage, and to bring in composted black dirt to back fill the planting holes.
Do you have any tips on getting the most out of trees in this location? Should I dig an especially large hole when planting and use the composted black dirt? The clay we have is awfully heavy, but it is good rich soil.
I'm obviously not a commercial farmer so I'm not worried about getting the absolute maximum yield from my trees.
What trees would you recommend for the area? I know I want at least one or two Wolf River's and my wife wants a Red Delicious. I would like at least one, maybe two honey-crisps as well.
Are any of these trees known to be adverse to somewhat low ground or clay soils? Drainage isn't great right now, but I can improve it. Are there any trees you would suggest or suggest I avoid?
I was thinking that considering how well my trees did last year, and presumably in years prior, without any fertilizer or spray or pruning (just enough to keep the branches high enough to mow with a rider under them which I appreciate!) or any care at all really, I would expect additional trees to do just as well, perhaps even better, since I'll actually care for them.
Sorry for such a long winded first post! I'm just adding these because I'd like to start making my own apple cider (I'm a huge apple cider fan) and my family likes apples. With a dozen semi-dwarf trees I'll be inundated with apples, I'm certain, and I figured if I end up with too many I can always take them to the farmers market and sell bags for a few bucks. And I like the idea of apple trees. I grew up with a back yard with a four acre field my parents and I planted with a couple thousand pine trees (I'm guessing, it might only be one thousand, or maybe three, I just remember doing a thousand in a week one summer and hating every minute of it!), and now you can hardly walk around back there. My kids will like apple trees a lot more than they like the pine trees at nana's house.