advice for planting apples appreciated

StephanieM(6b)July 11, 2013

IâÂÂm in full planning mode right now and seeking advice from those who have been there, done that.

My kids and I LOVE eating apples in all forms, so IâÂÂm thinking I should plant 1-2 apple trees. I live in suburban NW Ohio (Zone 6B).

Question topic 1: pollinating trees?
My neighbor has an apple tree that bears fruit, and other properties in neighborhood have crabapples. Do you think I need two trees for fertilization purposes?

Question topic 2: Tree location
Given how space is used in my yard, IâÂÂm actually thinking of filling in part of the grassy area between raised beds (making a H) and putting a dwarf (or even mini-dwarf) variety there. The space between beds is almost 4' wide, and the raised beds are just over 4' wide each. I want to keep the tree at Question type 3: How far away should I plant from house foundation?
My other option is to plant in the 20â wide and quite long grassy area which would be between the property line and our house (the property line abuts to the neighborâÂÂs turfgrass lawn). How far away should I be from the house foundation? If I get a mini-dwarf variety (supposedly 4-6â tall) how wide do they get?

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megamav(5a - NY)


My personal advice would be to NOT plant between the veggies. 2 Reasons. One would be that the tree(s) would eventually shade your vegetables, and your vegetable crop would be poor. The other would be that the root systems between the veggies and apple tree(s) would compete for moisture.

If there are multiple trees within line-of-site there is no need to plant more than one, unless there are plans for removal of said trees in the future.

Trees typically have a DIAMETER of about the same as their height. So a 10 foot tall tree will have a 10 foot diameter or a 5 foot radius. This is a rough estimate.

Apple trees need at least 6 hours of direct sun per day.
pH above 6.0 and below 7.5 is preferred.

I wouldnt recommend planting a tree too close to a foundation, unless its a slab, and the roots can make their way under the house a bit. Dwarf trees has less extensive roots than half standards and standards.

In short, give the apple trees their own space, remove the grass around them for compost and they'll be happy. Out of curiosity, have you thought about the variety of tree?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 3:39PM
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1. The neighboring trees should pollinate your tree.
2. Planting it between your vegetable garden will cause it to shade your garden. It would be better to plant it somewhere else.
3. You want to keep trees at least 3' away from your foundation. If they are planted too close after they get bigger they can actually crack your foindation with their roots.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 10:10AM
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If you decide to purchase an apple tree, I would purchase it/them on semi-dwarf rootstock and keep them only about 9-10' tall. That way you can have two, as they are shorter. and smaller. Your children will be able to enjoy and pick their own apples.
All of the above info is right.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 10:43AM
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I have my hobby orchard on land where I do not live.
However, I know the issue of space when you have a small yard (I do).

I would try NOT to plant fruits near the vegetable garden if you plan on spraying insecticides/fungicides on them for pest control. Any spray that drifts during application will be on your vegetables.

I have this problem with my small yard. Luckily the North Star Cherry in the yard does not get sprayed after June
15th. My nearby garden always gets planted to carrots
on that end since they do not get picked until October
which eliminates any issue of pesticide drift.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 11:38AM
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I found that one semi-dwarf apple can generate a lot of fruit. I'd like to have another, but I don't really need one- it's just that once you get started you get exposed to so many wonderful possibilities, and you want to try them all. So it might be worthwhile to be a little judicious about what you do get. It can be nice to have an early apple and a later one, too. I think everybody should have an apricot and a plum or two, and I'm a big fan of pears ... and have you thought about berries and figs and such ... ?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 5:09PM
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Thanks everyone for your input! Much appreciated.

I will definitely NOT plant the tree near between the veggie beds. Seems like there's lots of reasons to avoid that.

I've got enough space in the "side yard", to plant the trees there.

megamav: I think the mini-dwarf varieties that Raintree sells would the best size for our property/family. They've got ~20 varieties for that rootstock ( So... I'll have to do some research about which one(s) we'd like the best and would be good for our area.

marknmt: I could easily get lured into my own little backyard orchard. We're not such a fan of apricots, but we love plums and nectarines. I've read japanese plums wouldn't be a good choice for OH, and we've never had a European plum. Similarly, I've read that nectarines might be really difficult too. You're in a similar zone, what's been your experience?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 6:13PM
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Hi Stephanie. My zone and yours are only superficially similar because I'm on the other side of the divide and in a much less humid area. I like to say that we have four seasons: Too cold, too wet, too hot, and too dry. We try to cram what growing we can into a frost-free season that can be less than three months, or more than five. (The unpredictability is what kills us.)

The plus side is that we don't get nearly the pests you will.

Hard fruit we can grow are apples, European pears, apricots, plums, cherries and an occasional peach. No nectarines and as far as I know no Japanese plums, pawpaws or figs. Grapes, strawberries, and raspberries do fine.

I have to say that fresh picked, tree ripened fruit is just so much different from almost all store bought that it's a thrill and an eye-opener for me.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 8:51PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I would caution you about mini-dwarf trees. It could be quite a wait until you see fruit. While trees on M27 are considered precocious, they grow so slowly that it could be a while until the tree is big enough to bear the load of apples. I have 5 from Raintree (and a few mini-dwarf on G65 from Cummins). While most M27 have flowered in their 2nd year, none were able to bring the fruit to maturity.

Having said that, I don't see anything "wrong" with M27. I just think that you would do better with a tree on "normal dwarf" rootstock, like B9. It is still reasonably small (7-8' in 3rd leaf), but puts on decent growth. That helps both in getting the tree established and in recovering from an attack by deer (or just in giving you confidence to prune). The most any of my 3rd leaf M27 trees were carrying was ~10 apples. After June drop and some cracking due to the rain, none now have more than 4. I'm guessing that someday they will eventually have 20-30 apples, but that could be quite a while.

In terms of variety, William's Pride is a well-regarded early apple (which I hope to taste next month) and Goldrush is a great apple for October/November. To get complete apple-coverage, you may want something in between, a mid-season September apple.

If you are looking for other fruit which won't be too hard, Persimmon should work in your zone. Mulberries would be another to consider, though not near anything you don't want stained. Pears are another to consider.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 9:00PM
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Hey Bob_z6: Thanks for sharing your experiences. Your M27 experience gives me pause. My family would NOT be happy if all we got were 4 apples! If I went with a tree on "normal dwarf" rootstck, i.e. B9, would I be able to prune it heavily over time to keep it at around 5-6' tall by following pruning recommendations by Backyard Orchard Culture (Davis Wilson)?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 9:38PM
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megamav(5a - NY)


In terms of rootstock, I would consider Cummins Nursery, they're out of Western NY, and deliver state of the art rootstocks. They are resistant to a lot of rootstock diseases, more so than the older Mailing series.

Rootstocks you should consider for your space:

G.41, G.11, G.16, M.9

Most will stay below 10 feet with an average vigor scion and average soil.
Tops of trees can be bent sideways to terminate growth and induce fruit.
Their variety selection is deep.
I would recommend picking up "Apples for the 21st century" book on Amazon. Its a great book, relatively small, and cuts to the chase on a lot of great selections. Cost me $8 (goodwilbooks). I have a beef with Red Delicious being a modern selection, but thats a personal thing.
I'd select 2 from that book.

Here is a link that might be useful: Amazon Used Books.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 10:05PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)


While it won't naturally stay under 6', with some effort you should be able to keep it there (M27 would probably stay under without effort, but that isn't entirely good). As Megamav suggested, I think branch bending (bend branches close to horizontal and tie them there (attach to a stone on the ground or tie back to the trunk) is the way to go. That should help it fruit pretty early. Once it is doing that, you can be more aggressive in using pruning to keep it small.

I also like Cummins and have G11 and G16 rootstocks. B9 is still my favorite, as it stays a bit smaller that the others.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 12:10AM
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In 2006 I ordered a Pixie Crunch (dwarf) from Gurney's. This year it is my favorite tree. Why? It is loaded with apples in this year when frost hit Michigan again at blossom time. It is truly a dwarf tree with a wonderful umbrella shape. Kids could easily pick the fruit from it. Wish I had a picture to share with you.

It also has some precocious qualities. The two grafts I placed on this tree last season have fruit on them. This has not happened on other trees--semi-dwarfs--that have been grafted.

Gurney's usually has a 50% sale in early spring. Why not try this tree; it would fit nicely in your yard.

Wish I knew what the rootstock was. I have a Belle de Boskoop on Mark that has a similar umbrella shape. But this tree has only two apples this year, whereas the Pixie is loaded.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 8:00AM
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