Questions from a novice... apples
I don't know much about apples (other than how to use them), but I just discovered we have a mature apple tree on our property and so I'm here with questions for this season and next.
First, I'm wondering what kind of apples these are... they are small, a sort of rustic reddish with a little yellow/green. Seem to be ripening now in zone 6 (although, our pears ripened almost a full month earlier this year than the did the past two years, so the apples could have been earlier than normal too. They are nicely crisp, sweet and a little tart. They are white inside and don't seem to brown very quickly after cut.
Second question - I juiced a bunch of these apples the other day and after it sat for a while there was some white-ish, chalky pulp/sediment that settled out of it. The cider was excellent as long as I didn't shake up and reincorporate the chalky sediment. After the juice experience, I began to notice a bit of a chalky aftertaste when eating the apples fresh as well. I've read that unripe apples can have a chalky taste, but these seem ripe... they are sweet, red, and dropping off the tree on their own. I did 'pull' a few from the tree, but it didn't take enough effort that I would think they weren't ripe.
Last question, what can I do to improve my apple crop for next year? I don't know the first thing about growing fruit trees. There are a ton of dead branches that I assume should be pruned off, and we just had a tree fall in front of this one that opens it up to the sun a little more (which is how I discovered this tree after two years of not knowing it was an apple tree). I'd like to stick with organic methods.