Dwarf Apple Trees can produce organic apples naturally!
When we were little, we were surrounded with many big and tall tropical fruit trees in Singapore. However, these days most of us are living in flats; or in a small house and attached with a very small garden. A home garden with those semi-standard stem (about 1.5 meter); or standard stem (about 2 meter) fruit trees would not appear any more.
It is not only due to the shortage of space; but it is also because they are too difficult to manage; and they are creating much inconvenience during the harvest time.
Having a little garden; obviously we could not grow tall trees. Those old varieties with top quality, and fruitfulness trees are our priorities.
Besides Apricot tree (dwarf standard), we are also interested in apple trees; because apple fruit is our daily vitamin C supplier; and at certain months of the year, apples are expensive in the supermarket; and certain kinds of apples would be totally out-of-stock.
We knew that standard fruit trees are tall, it is not suitable for our small garden. However, in the year 2005 we found no real dwarf fruit trees in the local fruit tree nursery; and the shortest trees we could find were those dwarf standard; with trunks 2 to 3 feet high; or with maximum of 3 meters tree height.
At first we were interested to get two dwarf trees. One is the oldest variety, Malus domestica 'Benoni'. Another one is the old and popular variety, Malus domestica 'James Grieve'. However, when we read the labels hung on the trees; we realised that 'Benoni' is a great fertilising partner for quite a numbers of apple trees; including 'James Grieve'.
However, it needed to be fertilised by Cox's Orange Pippin; or Discovery or Golden Delicious' or Roda Mantet; which we would not know which one is the best.
'Benoni' and 'James Grieve' are both belong to the summer varieties. So, we left it as it is; and we have selected another apple, 'Red Jonathan' which could be fertilised by 'James Grieve'.
Once you bought the shrub or bush trees; it is necessary to set the trees immediately into the ground; to avoid roots turning dry. If the roots appeared as dried; you have to soak them in water for one day; before you set them in the soil.
The best time for planting apple trees should be around October to November; before the frost arrives. They need some time to be adapted to the ground that, you have provided. Afterwards, they will enjoy the winter days and start their healthy growth from early spring.
If you are too busy in the autumn; you may protect the roots and cover them in soil, and be sure that, the roots are dried; before you plant it in the spring.
The apple tree roots may not stay good when the freezing point is below minus 15°C. So, if the tree is planting at the right place, in the right position; and in the organic matters rich fertilisers; it may help them to grow strong and they will bear early fruits and give you great harvest.
We did not prune these trees before we put them in ground. Because the 4th and 5th shoots are nicely formed; and they are in a cup shape. So, they are ready for the growth.
These three dwarf apple trees love to stand on a permanent place; in a shallow level of water, rich in humus (from garden worms), slightly strong clayey loam, well drained compost mix soil. They love to be planted in full sun; in a position facing the east and southeast. Because this position protects the trees from the north and west winds; it will help to reduce the chances of injuries from the chilling wind.
The humidity in the air and the chilling wind play an important role too. When the humidity in the air is high, it will dissolve the dryness from the chilling wind. So, you will need a great help from the nature.
After winter, when the sun shone, the green buds began to appear.
And you may be admiring first the flowering apricot tree; if you have one. And then the flowering apple tree from 'James Grieve' would be shown for its first time in life. The upper body of the tree were fully covered with fragrant and sweet looking white and pink blossoms in the early spring.
After the blossoms were gone; the fruit buds would be slowly showing up. We did not provide much care, but just fed rain water during the dry days.
Our apple tree pruning is done before the autumn arrived. We tined out the center and those shoots had cross each other, so that all branches will receive abundance of light and sunshine. In the following spring, we pruned only the dead woods off the top shoots.
In the first two years of cultivation; we did not harvest. Soon we noticed that, every year in the month of June; once the strong wind started to blow; all the mini apples would dropped. It means the tree is not strong enough to bear fruits.
Two winter were past, and in the third year; the apple tree flower buds were shown in mid-April 2008. While we were enjoying the blossoms; we discovered that, the tree had spread her charming pink flowers up to the tallest center shoot; it reached 2 meter height. The tree looked very strong and healthy.
When the trees shown their flowers; the bees and wasp insects would appeared. And when they bear a crop of mini apples, obviously it will attract more winged visitors; and many backyard birds.
At this time came my Singapore girl friend. She advised me to use newspaper pockets; to protect the apples from the insects and the birds; because it worked well for her friend's sour apple tree in Perth. So, we did it together and soon the whole apple tree is covered with the unusual looking half-opened newspaper pockets.
After her departure; I realised that, it did not work. Because the non-stop heavy rain wet the pockets; and some of the baby apples were dropping due to the insufficient of air circulation. At these moment; came plenty of urgly looking black and orange unknown insects crawling all over the apple tree. I was panic; and I hand picked every one once I see them.
I thought I have to fight for my apples; but soon I was tired of doing it. Later I decided to remove all the paper pockets; and monitor no more. I left the tree to the nature.
The wind uncle came as usual in the month of June. But this time, he only swept off one small apple from the tree. It means the tree is strong and the rest of the fruit buds are healthy. And we have harvested 26 full sized organic James Grieve apple fruits in total in early September.
If you are one of those organic garden beginners; and you wish to start an edible landscape and grow your own apple trees; my advice is to grow those real dwarf fruit trees in 1.5 meter (maximum) height. This type of small trees are mostly planted in containers; and they are suitable for a patio garden.
When you have experienced the basic pruning skill and the control of problematic garden pests for these small trees; then you get the taller ones; or you can also train these trees into semi-dwarfs. In this way, you will be able to handle the new trees easily; and you will get your best quality of apples with joy.
Try dwarf apple trees in your small backyard garden?