Five Months of Apples (PNW)
May 4, 2020 3:39 PM   Subscribe

 
Nice. There's also a book Grow A Little Fruit Tree that aims for *slightly* taller trees, but still manageable. Written in Berkeley, which is like Humboldt a kinder climate than my end of the PNW, but I have hopes. (And plans. And a ruthlessly pruned pair of cherry whips, new this spring.)

My longterm plans involve something like the murs de peches, but all bouldery up a steep hill instead of needing actual masonry.
posted by clew at 4:09 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]


I am doing this in my Minneapolis backyard! We’re 4 years in now and finally seeing the first blossoms on half of the trees, though last year I didn’t bother pruning at all because I was sad about the lack of blossoms... So I need to prune them hard later this month. Fingers crossed they actually set fruit!

We’re growing chestnut crab, kindercrisp, Macintosh, Fireside, and Haralson apples in a 10’ x 6’ space along our neighbor’s fence. We bought bare root trees for about $25 a piece from a nursery outside the city. Thus far the biggest surprise has been how hard it is to protect trees from rabbits in the winter when your initial pruning cut is lower than the winter snow drifts. After the rabbits totally girdled the trees the first winter I had to prune them even lower, basically starting over from scratch. Now every fall I fence the trees in with 5 foot tall wire fencing lined with chicken wire. Luckily I got the fencing for free from a person who battled hungry deer in their yard. Hopefully all the labor will be worth it someday.
posted by Maarika at 4:57 PM on May 4 [6 favorites]


Someone say my name?
posted by humboldt32 at 5:10 PM on May 4


I need to take inspiration from this and plant apple trees. This is a great article, thank you, aniola.

Maarika, where are you located? I need to pick pie and eating apples for Maine.
posted by theora55 at 6:06 PM on May 4


Cool. It's like a bushy cordon. Cordons (Single-stemmed apple or pear trees planted at an angle, with fruiting spurs encouraged to form along the stem) are probably less work for the same yield but they aren't as attractive. And while the wiki description says they are 4m tall you can prune them to any height you want.
posted by Mitheral at 8:00 PM on May 4


I think it’s a lot more like an extreme open-center pruning than a cordon.

There are huge hills in Eastern California covered with surprisingly short orchards all pruned like open hands ready to catch the sun; from a distance they look like the solar-panel installations they nearly are. There must be a particular name for it.
posted by clew at 8:08 PM on May 4


I was working on clearing my back yard for re-wilding and apples, when my allergies reminded me why I always miss planting season. Hopefully we'll get some rain to knock down the pollen for a few days.
posted by cowcowgrasstree at 8:15 PM on May 4


There are huge hills in Eastern California covered with surprisingly short orchards all pruned like open hands ready to catch the sun; from a distance they look like the solar-panel installations they nearly are. There must be a particular name for it.

Probably trees on dwarfing rootstocks in a high density pattern, which have names like tall spindle, super spindle, fruiting wall, etc. This goes over some of the concepts and popular patterns, although with an emphasis on NY. Are the CA orchards trellised?
posted by zamboni at 9:59 PM on May 4


In our urban backyard we planted two columnar apple trees. They're great for size of fruit, size of tree, and ease of pruning. Maybe a few more are in order...
posted by hydra77 at 9:30 AM on May 5


I've been thinking for years about how to fit some apple trees in my yard, this is a perfect resource to get me started, thanks!!
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 3:02 PM on May 5


We just had an apple tree die, and were super sad at how long it was going to take to get one producing again. This seems like a really cool option. Thanks!
posted by kaibutsu at 9:52 PM on May 5


Last year I tried this, planting three each of apples, peaches and cherries. The deer apparently decided to use them for sustenance all winter so now I have two cherries and a single peach. The pruning methods were successful! I just didn’t account for deer pruning.
posted by annathea at 7:28 AM on May 7


I've been looking for the CA orchards I remember on Google Earth, but (a) photographs at the wrong time of day are uninterpretable and (b) the location I remember is `within a county or two of Merced'. This does not narrow it down much.

However, they don't look much like the ones in the NY paper linked. If I'm remembering them right, and they surprised me a lot at the time, they were shaped like miner's lettuce or nasturtium leaves, reniform or orbiculate: the trunk came up in near the middle of a flat fan of branches, the fans all facing the noon sun. Very like photovoltaic panel arrays in the region. I don't remember a lot of trellising, not like the grape regions in Yolo, etc.
posted by clew at 3:02 PM on May 7


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