Monday, June 24, 2024

Apple Tree Magic

by Handy Mag

by Caroline Knight

If there’s just one type of fruit tree that you might consider for your garden, let it be an apple. A tree that almost guarantees fruit success, whatever the weather. Malus are suited to the UK climate, including the wettest or hottest summer, and the coldest winter. What’s more, apple trees can tolerate most types of soil and are troubled by very few pests and diseases. These fine trees are an asset to any garden, providing spring blossom, dappled shade, biodiversity, beauty and, of course, fruit at the end of the summer and into autumn.

Which apple?

The most difficult task is to select a variety out of around 2,500 that exist in the UK. When you consider the lack of choice within most supermarkets, growing your own is liberating for the taste buds!

There are a number of factors to consider:

Do you want an apple for cooking or a dessert apple to eat straight off the tree?

What type of flavours do you like? Some apples are sweet and juicy, and others are tart. They might have a hint of honey, or be aromatic or subtle. Some apples are slightly nutty and feel dry in the mouth. At a time of year when the harvest is in full swing, there could be an opportunity for apple-tasting at farm shops and orchards across the country. It’s a great opportunity to find a favourite.

The appearance of the apple might be important to you. There are rosy red apples, lime-green fruits, golden yellow globes, fruits with bronze tones and others with a combination of colours. All beautiful in their own right.

Cropping time might also affect your choice. Some apples ripen early in the season and others much later.

Think about pollination: it is vital if the apple tree is to produce fruit. You will need a different type of apple nearby for cross-pollination unless you choose a self-fertile tree.

Consider the storage capability of the fruit. Many varieties of apples will store for several weeks or even months, in appropriate conditions. Others have only a brief shelf life and need to be eaten fairly promptly.

The size shouldn’t be a problem because it’s all about the rootstock. This limits the ultimate size of the tree. Most apples are grafted onto a rootstock and you will need to select the one suitable for the space.

Four fun facts:

  1. Apples float because they are 25 per cent air. Ideal for apple bobbing!
  2. Apple juice is said to act as an antidepressant, partly because the fruit contains serotonin which helps to reduce anxiety.
  3. The seeds of an apple contain a compound that can turn into cyanide when chewed. This could be lethal in high doses. This might explain the story of Snow White who fell into a coma after biting the poisoned apple.
  4. The Granny Smith apple got its name from Maria Ann Smith in Sydney, Australia. She planted a seed from a crab apple and it grew into a tree bearing exceptional fruit.

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