Apple trees, first you get the blossom, then the fruit.
Whenever apple trees are mentioned or wrote about, the main focus always seems to be on their thirst quenching fruit.
The flower of the tree or apple blossom gets forgotten about for the most part, as we once again concentrate on our belly and what goes into it.
In my opinion if your apple tree never produced fruit for you there is still great merit in growing this spring blooming specimen.
Even without fruit you can accept the pastel blooms of apple blossom as your reward for making it through the long cold (or wet) winter.
The county of Armagh takes its apple blossom very seriously, so much so that the tourist board have turned blossom time into a visitor attraction.
Guided apple blossom tours are available during May, taking in vast orchards, grand estate houses, and towns like Loughgall, which are flush with the light pink blossom. This popular tour around the Orchard of Ireland stops half way through for refreshments, which not surprisingly consists of tea/coffee/locally made apple juice, and homemade apple tart.
The predominant apple variety grown in Armagh is the cooker “Bramley’s seedling”, accounting for approximately eighty per cent of all the commercial apples produced in this country. This cooking or culinary apple tends to be very acidic, however if you alter the amount of sugar added when preparing it for the oven you can bring it to your specific taste.
The blossom of the Bramley tree is abundant and it errs towards bright pink rather than light pink. When mature it is as striking a tree in bloom as those other trees commonly revered for their spring colour, the cherry blossoms.
Fancy planting your own “Bramley’s seedling” or another favourite apple tree for blossom and the added bonus of fruit? Well they should be planted into your garden in the next few weeks, thus enabling them enjoy the benefit of the spring growing season.
Simple apple tree planting steps.
(1) Once you get your tree selection home from the garden centre/nursery begin by digging a planting pit twice as wide as the trees containerised root-ball, and if possible twice as deep as the root-ball. If you are planting a bare-root specimen, then the planting pit must be wide enough to allow the trees roots to be spread out completely.
(2) Mix the best of the soil that comes from this excavation half and half with well-rotted farmyard manure, homemade compost or peat based compost. The manure or compost should be decomposed to the point that it is odourless, if it is fresh and smelly, steer clear as this could burn the trees roots. Also, avoid adding any artificial fertilisers whilst apple tree planting, as these are equally capable of burning fresh roots.
(3) Fork over the base of the planting hole and add enough of the topsoil / compost mix to allow the tree to sit at the same depth as it is in the pot, or in the case of bare-rooted trees to the same depth as the old soil mark on the trunk. If you are planting a container grown tree ensure that the root-ball is thoroughly soaked before planting, submerging it in a drum of water is a good way to do this.
(4) The time to stake the tree is while the planting hole is still open, this will prevent you driving the stake through roots and damaging them. Position the stake and tie so that the tree bends away from them when blown by the prevailing wind.
(5) Then begin to back-fill the topsoil / compost mix, if planting bare-root gently shake the tree up and down to remove air pockets. Having planted the tree, tread down the soil using your boots to ensure good soil / root contact and finally, water the tree well with about 10 litres of rainwater.
Let me know how you get on with your apple tree planting. Did you do anything different? Here’s hoping you receive lots of blossom and its associated fruit.
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