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polaris

Apple Tree Help

We have a little apple tree who has been very neglected over the years, I tend to think of her as a she as she was planned in memory of my mother. We live by the sea and have a very thick peaty soil, the tree is on a nice slope in a sunny position, though possibly a bit over exposed to the winds it has never had any trouble holding it's own. We bought it from a garden centre exactly 11 years ago, this year was the very first year we had anything even resembling a usable amount of apples from it, five scabby little buggers as sour as hell and hard as rock. The tree is scarcely twice the size it was when we bought it (a scraggly little thing like you'd find in lidl) and has no designated shape nor structure. My questions is..... Is there anything I can do to help it? To help it grow bigger and healthier, to help it hold more apples and not drop them all half way through...? It has never been fed that I know of, or tamed in any way. It is a James Greaves? And has been very much deserted by my papa, who is a veg wizard but a tree novice. It does flower beautifully, but is starting to look a bit wild.....

I would also love to know if anyone knows of any nurseries where I could order trees that are old enough to be ready to fruit already, or soon, as we would love to add some more "home grown" to the place.
Rena

Our apple trees did really well the first several years...then, it seemed like all of the sudden like they kept losing their fruit ... until I realised one year they  just weren't getting enough water. So, I set to some serious attention, and was quite amased how quickly they recovered! Had a bumper crop each year after. Not sure if that applies to your sweet little tree, or what your water values are, but given she's on a slope, might that be a possibility?
Lorrainelovesplants

Re your existing tree.  I think the soil sounds okay, but the exposed situation wont do much for it.  You could either attempt to move it (although its been insitu for eleven years and this will be a shocking experience for it), or have some sort of shelter/windbreak.  If its a james Grieve variety, the apples will resemble Cox's in flavour.  You will only get more apples IF there is another tree of a different variety nearby to pollinate it and if the conditions allow bees to access the flowers (ie its not too windy and exposed).

There are loads of nurseries only too happy to sell you trees which they will mail order to you.  I wouldnt buy anything older than a 2 year old tree as they will take a long time to settle and bear fruit anyway - no such thing as a quick fix.  Any tree should be fruiting in 4-5 years anyhow.
As for varieties to suit you up there - look for scab and canker resistant ones, mid season varieties and go for the biggest rootstock as this will 'take' faster - MM106 or M11.
As to personal choice?  Well, I like a crispy eater - katy or Discovery are a bit early but nice, Orleans Reinette is a nice apple, mid season, but also nice in crumbles.  I hate russets.
polaris

Lorrainelovesplants wrote:
Re your existing tree.  I think the soil sounds okay, but the exposed situation wont do much for it.  You could either attempt to move it (although its been insitu for eleven years and this will be a shocking experience for it), or have some sort of shelter/windbreak.  If its a james Grieve variety, the apples will resemble Cox's in flavour.  You will only get more apples IF there is another tree of a different variety nearby to pollinate it and if the conditions allow bees to access the flowers (ie its not too windy and exposed).

There are loads of nurseries only too happy to sell you trees which they will mail order to you.  I wouldnt buy anything older than a 2 year old tree as they will take a long time to settle and bear fruit anyway - no such thing as a quick fix.  Any tree should be fruiting in 4-5 years anyhow.
As for varieties to suit you up there - look for scab and canker resistant ones, mid season varieties and go for the biggest rootstock as this will 'take' faster - MM106 or M11.
As to personal choice?  Well, I like a crispy eater - katy or Discovery are a bit early but nice, Orleans Reinette is a nice apple, mid season, but also nice in crumbles.  I hate russets.



Thank you so much for the recommendations, especially the root stock, it's all nonsense to me sometimes trying to make sense of it. We had a distinct problem with scab on the tree this year which I'm researching help for next year. Any tips?
Papa agrees water might be an issue as it's on a very steep slope above a small burn and all the water just runs right down to the water table through our sandy soil. It's mad, sandy dry soil on one side of the house, thick peat marsh on the other  
Lorrainelovesplants

Any thing I can suggest to help....

Re the soil - the sandy soil could be improved by digging in spent compost, straw, grass cuttings - anything that will improve the texture.  Be sure not to dig this in JUST in the hole for any tree planting as it will just act as a sponge and then you will have a different set of problems.  I top dress with spent chicken manure - loads of woodshavings & poo, but I dont heap it against the tree trunk.

The peaty soil could have some sand moved over from the other area to lighten it a little.

A tip given to me was to sink a hollow pipe down near the trunk and water into this (if on a slope).  You need to give it a good amount - a good few bucket fulls rather than a little, frequently.

Ultimately, there's not a lot you can do with the conditions you have.

Rootstocks are made much too complicated.  When I teach this, I explain that there is NO logic in the numbering sequence - you just have to learn them.  Most trees for 'small' gardens are grown on MM106.  Ive attached a PP I use - there is some info on this on rootstocks and about canker etc.  It might be useful to you......

Click to download file
polaris

Lorrainelovesplants wrote:
Any thing I can suggest to help....

Re the soil - the sandy soil could be improved by digging in spent compost, straw, grass cuttings - anything that will improve the texture.  Be sure not to dig this in JUST in the hole for any tree planting as it will just act as a sponge and then you will have a different set of problems.  I top dress with spent chicken manure - loads of woodshavings & poo, but I dont heap it against the tree trunk.

The peaty soil could have some sand moved over from the other area to lighten it a little.

A tip given to me was to sink a hollow pipe down near the trunk and water into this (if on a slope).  You need to give it a good amount - a good few bucket fulls rather than a little, frequently.

Ultimately, there's not a lot you can do with the conditions you have.

Rootstocks are made much too complicated.  When I teach this, I explain that there is NO logic in the numbering sequence - you just have to learn them.  Most trees for 'small' gardens are grown on MM106.  Ive attached a PP I use - there is some info on this on rootstocks and about canker etc.  It might be useful to you......

Click to download file


Thank you so much! My papa is so proud if his little tree and was so chuffed when I made him a pie from the rescued chunks of scruffy apples. Would like to do anything I can for it we'll put a pipe in tomorrow as soon as it's stopped raining (gale force here ATM, but the sun keeps peeping through!) and I'll put the chicken mess from the house on tomorrow too.

We've given up on the soil around our greenhouse and veg patch, it's pure sphagnum marsh, we've built raised beds instead which are cycled in a five year rotation currently with one bed always in "compost" with layered chicken, horse, cow manure, straw, seaweed, all kitchen waste etc, anything organic, with a load of sand to lighten the natural peat soil, covered and allowed to cook all winter and usually for about 10 months before we rotate and start again, the soil really isn't worth the effort it would take to get it workable in that half. But our raised beds are hugely prolific! Will put some of the compost round the tree too to try and keep some moisture in.
Rena

The watering my be a bit of a challenge to begin with. I found that I had to water up close to the tree (about a 4-5' radius with the trunk being center), then out a bit farther as it seemed the roots had gone 'looking' all over the place for water on their own as well. Don't be surprised if you need to set a few watering spots for the sweet tree. Maybe 'tier' a few levels down the slope? (Kinda like a garden set up on a steep slope? They have a 'wall' look to them.) Hoping for the absolute best! Please keep updating.
polaris

Rena wrote:
The watering my be a bit of a challenge to begin with. I found that I had to water up close to the tree (about a 4-5' radius with the trunk being center), then out a bit farther as it seemed the roots had gone 'looking' all over the place for water on their own as well. Don't be surprised if you need to set a few watering spots for the sweet tree. Maybe 'tier' a few levels down the slope? (Kinda like a garden set up on a steep slope? They have a 'wall' look to them.) Hoping for the absolute best! Please keep updating.


Thank you we had great rain today (really been needing it despite the time of year) and spread some chicken muck around the base this afternoon so the rain should help drive that in. Is there a risk of too much chicken muck doing her harm? I tried not to be over generous while still being thorough and as you said, spread it in a fine, but large radius from maybe 4" out by about 5 feet
Rena

As LLP said, you don't want to be setting it too close to the trunk. Leave at least 12-18" diameter with the trunk being center. I would think you could spread the manure in a fairly large area given the roots have had several years to be venturing out.

Unless the water table within the ground exists and is accessible by the roots in a deep fashion, I'm guessing there might be a shallow root structured base. that is where the 'row' aspect will help, as it will create a 'barrier' (of sorts) that will slow the runoff down and allow for more absorption.
polaris

Rena wrote:
As LLP said, you don't want to be setting it too close to the trunk. Leave at least 12-18" diameter with the trunk being center. I would think you could spread the manure in a fairly large area given the roots have had several years to be venturing out.

Unless the water table within the ground exists and is accessible by the roots in a deep fashion, I'm guessing there might be a shallow root structured base. that is where the 'row' aspect will help, as it will create a 'barrier' (of sorts) that will slow the runoff down and allow for more absorption.


It's settled ( almost ) been watching the neighbours dogs and guinea pigs (one gave birth today!!) and she has the same tree, same place, about 30 yards apart, her ground is a lot wetter than ours, tree is LADEN with apples. All perfect, all lovely, nearly breaking the branches HUGE apples. Can you tell I'm jealous??   I totally didn't steal a half dozen.... (she doesn't use them anyway, just let's them fall!!! I'm planning on asking for picking rites this year)
If a tree has good drainage can you over water it?
Rena

In your situation, I'm not sure you *could* overwater! the drainage has to be amazing! So looking forward to next years results on this years changes!
polaris

Rena wrote:
In your situation, I'm not sure you *could* overwater! the drainage has to be amazing! So looking forward to next years results on this years changes!


Our garden is ridiculous. I'll try and get a picture up when it stops raining! One side is bone dry, the other marsh.
Rena

polaris wrote:
Rena wrote:
In your situation, I'm not sure you *could* overwater! the drainage has to be amazing! So looking forward to next years results on this years changes!


Our garden is ridiculous. I'll try and get a picture up when it stops raining! One side is bone dry, the other marsh.


I'd love to see!! So you have the 'best of both worlds' eh? That must be mad! We have desert, dry land...(that was a former lakebed decades ago) ....excellent drainage though!
polaris

Rena wrote:
polaris wrote:
Rena wrote:
In your situation, I'm not sure you *could* overwater! the drainage has to be amazing! So looking forward to next years results on this years changes!


Our garden is ridiculous. I'll try and get a picture up when it stops raining! One side is bone dry, the other marsh.


I'd love to see!! So you have the 'best of both worlds' eh? That must be mad! We have desert, dry land...(that was a former lakebed decades ago) ....excellent drainage though!


Our biggest problem is the huge hill that rises like a cliff on one side, then platues (where the house is built), then drops off into a deep burn on the other side. The ground above the burn (about ten feet higher than water level) is dry as heck.
Rena

I can imagine! Are you able to grow a vegie type garden at all? I'm really looking forward to photos!
polaris

Rena wrote:
I can imagine! Are you able to grow a vegie type garden at all? I'm really looking forward to photos!


Our veg patches are all raised beds, it's the only way to keep on top of the wet. It's thundering rain here again today, and I this for the next couple of days, just waiting for the little burn beside us to burst its banks and wash away half the car park!!  
Rena

polaris wrote:
Our veg patches are all raised beds, it's the only way to keep on top of the wet. It's thundering rain here again today, and I this for the next couple of days, just waiting for the little burn beside us to burst its banks and wash away half the car park!!  


I love raised beds! What kinds of things do you grow?

Whoa! I cannot imagine that kind of water flow!! We live in a high desert 'basin'(extremely cold, (long) winters and extremely (short) hot summers). The snows usually come first, then everything is frozen solid until 'Spring' thaw....anywhere between May an July , and even then, we only get a few 'puddles' usually.
polaris

Rena wrote:
polaris wrote:
Our veg patches are all raised beds, it's the only way to keep on top of the wet. It's thundering rain here again today, and I this for the next couple of days, just waiting for the little burn beside us to burst its banks and wash away half the car park!!  


I love raised beds! What kinds of things do you grow?

Whoa! I cannot imagine that kind of water flow!! We live in a high desert 'basin'(extremely cold, (long) winters and extremely (short) hot summers). The snows usually come first, then everything is frozen solid until 'Spring' thaw....anywhere between May an July , and even then, we only get a few 'puddles' usually.


This year we had rhubarb, leeks, radishes, beet root, onions, spring onions, red onions, yellow and green courgettes, 3 types of cucumbers, peas, beans, multitude of herbs, strawberries, potatoes, cabbages, cauliflowers, loads of different lettuces and gooseberries.

Next year we are doing the same, plus chillis, and some other bedding plants to sell at the market
Rena

WOW!! You've got it down then!! You'll have that sweet little tree up an makin apples in no time with that kind of a green thumb!!!
Lorrainelovesplants

The weather was the main reason why we left Scotland.

I so feel for you.  Terracing might go some way to slowing the passage of the water.....
polaris

Rena wrote:
WOW!! You've got it down then!! You'll have that sweet little tree up an makin apples in no time with that kind of a green thumb!!!


I am very much still learning! I only learned this year not to plant onions next to peas......  
polaris

Lorrainelovesplants wrote:
The weather was the main reason why we left Scotland.

I so feel for you.  Terracing might go some way to slowing the passage of the water.....


Normally I like it, it just runs to such extremes!  
Rena

polaris wrote:
Rena wrote:
WOW!! You've got it down then!! You'll have that sweet little tree up an makin apples in no time with that kind of a green thumb!!!


I am very much still learning! I only learned this year not to plant onions next to peas......  


....um..... .... I just learned that this year too...... lol (this is the first year I really 'studied' the 'art' of what goes best with what.... . I've always planted the way one of my foster families taught me).
sod

Is it carrots n onions good together
Rena

Not sure off the top of my winterised brain .... But here is the link I used last spring


ETA (lol)>>> http://www.motherearthnews.com/or...e-zmaz81mjzraw.aspx#axzz3FPdpRoDw
Rena

sod wrote:
Is it carrots n onions good together


Looks like they are!
polaris

sod wrote:
Is it carrots n onions good together


Only one I know off the top of my head is toms and basil. "Things that go together, grow together!" Thanks for the link, really interesting!   I'm definitely still learning, and it is definitely still raining  
On a worse side, we had a line Martin poaching round the garden last night.....
sod

Just done a check 'it seems the onions help keep the carrot fly away
Rena

polaris wrote:
On a worse side, we had a line Martin poaching round the garden last night.....


What is a line Martin?

Eta-you are welcome. I found that link very helpful, to be sure.
Border

Rena wrote:
 What is a line Martin?

Eta-you are welcome. I found that link very helpful, to be sure.


I think it's a typo.......think she means a Pine Martin.

Horrible little devils.

Digindeep

polaris wrote:
Rena wrote:
WOW!! You've got it down then!! You'll have that sweet little tree up an makin apples in no time with that kind of a green thumb!!!


I am very much still learning! I only learned this year not to plant onions next to peas......  


For as long as
Digindeep

polaris wrote:
Rena wrote:
WOW!! You've got it down then!! You'll have that sweet little tree up an makin apples in no time with that kind of a green thumb!!!


I am very much still learning! I only learned this year not to plant onions next to peas......  


For as long as I can remember I've always planted onions under my runner beans. Plant them into chosen bed months before you plant or even erect the bean poles.
Certainly keeps the blackfly at bay. Over the past couple of years, I've planted onions in rows well apart so I can plant dwalf beans in between. same results, plants not attacked by blackfly.

IMHO worthwhile
polaris

Digindeep wrote:
polaris wrote:
Rena wrote:
WOW!! You've got it down then!! You'll have that sweet little tree up an makin apples in no time with that kind of a green thumb!!!


I am very much still learning! I only learned this year not to plant onions next to peas......  


For as long as I can remember I've always planted onions under my runner beans. Plant them into chosen bed months before you plant or even erect the bean poles.
Certainly keeps the blackfly at bay. Over the past couple of years, I've planted onions in rows well apart so I can plant dwalf beans in between. same results, plants not attacked by blackfly.

IMHO worthwhile


Are beans possibly considered different from peas  

And yes, typo.... PINE MARTEN
Rena

Thanks Border        woooo. My first thought was to they remind me of our weasels. No fun. No fun at all. Do you have livestalk, Polaris?

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