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 with a very little garden. A home garden with those semi-standard stem (about 1.5 meter); or standard stem (about 2 meters) fruit trees would not appear any more.
It is not only due to the shortage of space; it is also because the trees are too difficult to manage; and they are creating much inconvenience during the harvest time.
Having a small garden in Netherlands; 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 types of apples would be totally out-of-stock.
We knew that standard fruit trees are not for our little 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 number of apple trees; including 'James Grieve'.
Malus domestica 'Benoni' 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.
Since 'Benoni' and 'James Grieve' both are 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. The trees 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 with 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. 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 were nicely formed; and they were 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 earth worms), slightly strong clayey loam, and well drained compost mix soil.
The apple trees 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.
However; if you cannot provide the East or Southeast location; you can block the north and west winds.
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. Therefore, you will need a great help from the nature.
In the early spring, when the sun shone, the green buds began to appear. And you may be admiring first the flowering apricot tree; if you have one; followed by the flowering apple trees 'James Grieve'; Benoni; and Red Jonathan. The upper body of the James Grieve tree was fully covered with fragrant and sweet looking white and pink blossoms.
After the blossoms were gone; the mini fruits would be slowly showing up. We did not provide much care, but just fed rain water during the dry days.
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 trees were not strong enough to bear fruits.
Two winter were past, and in the third year; our James Grieve apple tree's flower buds were shown on 21st March (picture 1); and later enlarged on 19-4-2008 (picture 2).
While we were enjoying the blossoms (picture 3-5); we discovered that, the tree had spread her charming pink flowers right up to the tallest center shoot (picture 6); it reached 2 meter height. The tree looked very strong and healthy.
When the apple tree shown their flowers (picture 7); 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 (picture 8); to protect the apples from the insects and the birds; because it worked very well for her friend's sour apple tree in Perth. So, we did it together and soon the whole James Grieve apple tree was 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 that moment; came plenty of funny 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. Thereafter; enlarged green apples (picture 9) were appearing.
The wind uncle came as usual in the month of June. But this time, he only swept off one small apple (picture 10) from the tree. It means the tree was strong and the rest of the baby apple fruits were healthy.
Monitoring & Discoveries
*All the apples were slowly enlarging every day; and they were slowly changing colours and sizes (picture 11, 12 & 14) at the same time.
*During the growth; much supports were required. Once the apples are bigger; you must monitor and make sure all branches that carried fruits are secured. You can cut the long plastic bags or ropes; and use them to tie the branches (picture 13); guide the branches towards the main branch without damaging them.
*Apples were grown to the top of the tree (picture 15).
*Extra support must be given if the apples are grown in clusters (picture 16).
*The apple tree was still green on 28th October (picture 22).
*On 23rd November all fruit trees were covered with snow (picture 23).
*On 1st December 2008 James Grieve apple tree was in her winter sleep (picture 24).
Planting Dwarf Apple Trees can Make You Want to Grow More!
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 small patio garden too.
When you have experience the basic pruning skill and the control of the problematic garden pests for these small fruit trees; then you get the taller ones; or you can simply train these dwarf trees into semi-dwarfs. In this way, you will be able to manage the new trees easily; and you will get your best quality of apples with joy.
Grow dwarf apple trees with different apple varieties in your organic garden?