Nothing beats an apple picked from your own tree, but
growing them does take work
I'd like to grow apples in my yard. I hear I need to
plant two trees, is that true? Are they hard to grow? I want to be
able to eat the apples off my tree. Where can I buy the trees? I
haven't seen them at nurseries around here.
You do need two different types of apple to insure
cross-pollination for good fruiting. If you have a crabapple on
your property within bee-flying range you may be able to get fruit
from a single apple tree, since crabapple is the same species as
Apples are not hard to grow but for fruit as clean as you buy at
a grocer you will have to follow a program of spraying the tree
throughout the growing season with fungicide and insecticide. For
that reason, it's a good idea to look for a dwarf tree of the type
of apple you select to grow -- they are simpler to spray.
There are disease resistant apple types, bred to produce clean
fruit with less spraying. If grown without any sprays there may be
blemishes, however, since disease resistance is not immunity. Also,
a crop grown without any pesticide application may vary in
appearance from year to year because the weather will vary and with
it, disease infection opportunities. Last year my family ate apples
right from our trees, which we never spray. They were the best
apples we'd ever tasted and were pretty, too. Other years they are
so ugly that my first thought is cider or pie, not eating them out
Some of the best disease resistant apples, bred for that quality
and for good fruit, are Enterprise, Freedom, Goldrush, Liberty and
Redfree. If I had room in my yard to plant more apple trees right
now I would probably choose Liberty, reportedly the most resistant
to all the common diseases, for its spicy fruit. I'd pick Redfree
as its pollinator since it also has the spice that my family likes
but its crop matures weeks earlier. Between the two we'd have
fresh-picked fruit for many weeks.
To read more about these apples and about the program to breed
for disease resistance, go to the University of Guelph,Ontario
Some local garden centers carry fruit trees, although most do
focus on ornamentals.
There was no sarcasm in "silk flowers or
Silk flowers and sculpture are two legitimate answers to
impossible situations such as "it must be a no-maintenance garden,"
or "it will have to grow in the dark without water." In many
gardens I've designed and tended I've placed non-plant features to
provide otherwise unattainable height or color, or to meet
unrealistic care criteria.
To those who wrote that this and others of my May 8 answers were
flippant, pompous, unhelpful or mean, consider the observation made
by F.K. of Beverly Hills, "The truth is not always comfortable.
Ash tree showing damage? Accept the loss and move
Can you protect your ash tree from emerald ash borer? MSU,
Department of Agriculture and Forestry Service research so far
indicates there is little chance of saving an ash by insecticide
treatment if that tree has more than 15 percent damage.
In practice, this means the trees worth protecting are those
that are not yet damaged, since the average person will not
normally notice EAB damage until the tree is 25 to 50 percent
So if your ash tree is thin or has dead branches don't waste
money on treatments. Remove it.
This is not cold-hearted, just practical. I am grieving for the
ashes, as many are. Winter's bareness masked the extent of the
devastation for a time. Now the gaps are once again noticeable and
very much larger.
Green thumbs up
to setting annuals free and giving them room. Slice or tear off
any rootbound bottoms of flowers so roots will grow out more
quickly. Leave at least eight inches between plants. If you can't
give up the instant gratification of "cram planting", set the
plants wide in one test area. Watch those flowers outshine their
crowded counterparts from July to frost.
Green thumbs down
to hidden burlap and cord. As you plant B&B (balled
and burlapped) or large potted trees and shrubs, be on guard for
these killers. More and more often I find old cord and fabric under
new or a wrapped ball set into a pot. If you don't peel off all
layers after you set the plant into its hole you may find the plant
dead in a year or maimed for life by girdling cords or cloth.
Originally published 5/22/04