Archive for the ‘Growing Apples’ Category

Fall Update

Well, fall is here!  The trees did pretty well this year.  The Cox’s Orange Pippin had a bunch of apples on it.  Actually, four of my seven trees had at least one apple.  I waited a bit too long to harvest my Cox’s Orange Pippin apples and they were starting to get mealy.  Another round of deer nibbled on my trees, but left the apples alone.  I thought that was kind of weird.

I’ve spent some time at Moore Orchards this fall.  Was able to pick some Yellow Transparent apples for my grandma late in the summer.  Been hitting up the orchard every Saturday for the past few weeks to get more apples.  My wife has also been eating a lot of apples and together, we have eaten over a bushel in less than a month.  Her favorites are 20oz and Jonathon.

May Update

May was an interesting month.  The trees bloomed for the first time.  They also had their first fruit set.  Here is a picture of the Hauer Pippin with a growing apple.IMG_20130527_143452

The Cox’s Orange Pippin had TONS of flowers on it and looks like it might have some fruit.  I’ll have to make sure the apples don’t get too heavy on the branch and bust it.  That’s the last thing I need on that tree!  A few weeks ago, I tilled up the soil again and prepped it for the pumpkins and watermelons I planted among the trees.  Going to plant some blueberries just north of where I planted the apples.

Two trees did not bloom this year.  One was not a surprise.  The Northern Spy isn’t a big surprise.  It has been known as a tree that takes its time to get ready.  The other one was the Braeburn I transplanted last year.  I hacked it back a bit.  It had this ugly curve and some dead branches.  It’s leaved out and hopefully next year it will be happy.

Late Fall/Early Winter Update

Well, it was an interesting first season.  The conditions were not that great and I had to water the trees a lot due to lack of rain.  The other tree I got from my friends is doing alright.  I thought it was going to die, lost all of it’s leaves, got them back, lost them again, got them back again, and stayed alive.  It has a very big curve in the top branch, so I am hoping to field graft a different apple stock on top of it this winter.  That will take some help from fellow orchardist Terry Moore.  I will need not only his expertise, but scions from his trees.

About a month ago, I was able to get my fencing up around the trees.  I haven’t had a ton of luck getting it to stay in place due to the wind, but the snow we got last week has really helped.  It’s more or less frozen in place for now.  I need to go pick the last of the leaves from the tree as they are long dead.  A hard frost we got in the latter part of fall killed them off.  Or at least I think they did because the leaves turned brown after that.  Hard frost was the name of the game this year!

Last week, I was talking to my friend’s father in law about planting some trees.  He wants to plant a few trees this spring and had a few questions for me about them.  Mainly, how far apart do you plant them?  I told him it’s based on rootstock and pruning techniques.  Also, I gave him some links and the name of a book that should help him get all the information he could need.

That’s about all the update I have for now.  Once I get the braeburn tree grafted to a new type, I will update on how I did that.

One Month In…

My apples were planted exactly one month ago today.  Some of them are flourishing, while others have yet to bud.  The Northern Spy has not budded yet, and it is beginning to worry me.  Every other tree has buds popping through and some have leaves (or are in the middle of forming leaves).  The White Pearmain is doing very well with the most leaves.  I had to clip a branch from the Ashmead’s Kernel, it was broken during shipping and I tried to let it slide.  It was not doing anything, so I clipped it to let the rest of the tree get the nutrients that were being send to that very small and broken branch.  It is going to be slightly different from I wanted it to be, but what can I do?

I was able to visit with Terry Moore from Moore Orchards last weekend.  He is a very nice gentleman.  Terry told me about some of the big mistakes he’s made over the years, but he’s learned from them and is willing to share his knowledge with other people.  Terry told me a story about when he was starting out and how some of the people helped him while others would not.  He said if he was ever in that situation, he would help the newcomers.  I think he may teach me how to graft this winter.  That would be awesome.  It’s a dying art that was once more common knowledge for farmers.

I believe that the Cottrells are going to plant a mini garden in the middle of my mini orchard this year.  It will need to be fenced in to keep the deer out, but it should be helpful in getting decaying plants into the soil.

Here is a picture of the Blair White just a few days before it’s one month planted birthday.

More work

I’ve done some more work to the orchard.  Since my in-laws came a few days after I got the trees in the ground, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to work on the orchard.  Last night, I was able to go buy some mulch and put it around the trees.  This should help protect them and keep the moisture around the tree there for a longer period of time.  Still need to get some fencing around the orchard.  I’ve talked to a few friends who have considered growing apples as well.  Gave him some information to think about and shared a little of my knowledge with him.  haha, I’m talking like I’ve been doing this for more than a few months!

The trees are in!

This past Friday, my trees arrived from TreesOfAntiquity.com.  Luckily, I had talked to my dad about borrowing his rototiller and he brought it over.  Saturday was a very busy day, so Sunday (March 18, 2012) was the day to get the land worked and get the trees in the ground.  It took me about 2.5 hours to till up the grass and get it halfway decent.  Man, it was TOUGH work getting that sod turned over!  My arms were sore on Monday.  Now it’s Thursday and I’m not as sore as I was.

Last night, I worked a bit on my orchard.  It was mostly putting some fertilizer around the trees.  I decided to only put a little around each tree so I could give them a few more treatments.  I have humates as well, but since I didn’t put them on initially when I planted, I’m going to wait a little bit.  I’ve read that you aren’t supposed to water again until they start to bud, so I’m going to hold off until they are ready to be watered.  Also, I put some of the branch spreaders on the trees to get my branches growing at the correct angles.

One of my trees, Blair White (White Pearmain), already has a bud!  I was very surprised yesterday when I saw that. What makes it even more amusing is that is the tree I thought was in the worst spot!  The soil is more rocky in that area and I figured it would not grow as well as the others.  So far, I’ve been proven totally wrong.  Last night, I took my daughter out to see the bud, and she was really excited going over there and kept saying, “Apples!  Apples, Daddy!”  She’s two, so it’s cute to see her get excited about stuff.

As for the name Blair White, I’ve decided to name all my trees after famous athletes from Saginaw (probably going to be named after football players).  I’ve only named two of them so far, Blair White (White Pearmain) and LaMarr Woodley (Northern Spy, since he’s good at getting sacks for the Pittsburgh Steelers).  I’m going to have to come up with more names and put the tags on the trees before too long.  I’ll use my wife’s label maker and stick the labels on the aluminum labels I got with the trees.  Putting the name of the tree, the type of tree, and maybe some more information on each label is probably what I’m going to do.

The weather around here has been insane.  We have set records each day the past eight for high temperature.  Yesterday is was at least in the mid 80’s, extremely warm for late March.  Local weather people say we shouldn’t worry too much about snow because the lakes and ground have warmed up so much already.  Even if it does get a hard frost, I’m not going to worry too much because I won’t be getting apples this year anyway.

There is still a lot of work to be done.  Still need to put some mulch around the trees and plant a cover crop.  I’m hoping to get a chance to work on it this weekend, even though my in-laws are in town.  I bet I can convince my father in law to come give me a hand, he has a huge garden and a few apple trees as well.  I’ve taken a bunch of pictures, but the camera is at home.  I will do my best to get some posted in the next few days.

Andiamo!

Well, I ordered my first apple trees yesterday from www.Treesofantiquity.com.  This is something i’ve been wanting to do for about seven years.

I was going to plant one at my old house, but decided not to because of a few reasons.  #1 – it would be in the dog yard.  I didn’t want my dogs eating the apples.  The greyhound we had then, Chase, would have LOVED it though.  He loved apples.  #2 – the huge maple tree wouldn’t have allowed it to get much light.  I know they need plenty of sunlight to grow and the huge trees in the yard would have stunted the growth.

The thing I thought was interesting about Trees of Antiquity is the trees they have.  Most of them are heirloom varieties, so they aren’t ones you will just go find in the store.  I’ve thought about putting in a Granny Smith and a Braeburn, but for my first attempt at growing apple trees, I figured something a little different was in order.  I was able to procure six heirloom apple trees, they are as follows.

  1. Hauer Pippin
  2. Cox’s Orange Pippin
  3. Newton Pippin
  4. Ashmead’s Kernel
  5. White Pearmain
  6. Northern Spy

In addition, I bought starter kids for them all, which include branch spreaders, tags, and fertilizer.

The trees won’t be shipped for a while still.  It could be a month before they actually get to me.  In the meantime, i’ve been posing questions to as many apple people as I can.  One of the emails I sent was to the Michigan State Extension office in Flint.  I have also sent an email to the owners of Eastman’s Antique Apples.  They have a 15 acre orchard in the Breckenridge area with about 1,500 different varieties.  This summer/fall, I hope to purchase a bunch of apples from them so I can taste a bit the crazy different types of apples that are out there.  Michigan is near the top in the United States for apple growing.  Hopefully I will be able to utilize the knowledge of these people to make my tiny home orchard into a fruitful one!