Overall my garden has been lackluster this year. I believe you get out of the garden what you put in and I just have not had the time or energy to put much in this year. However, I’m happy to report a great first apple harvest this year!
At our recent neighborhood block party I fielded many questions about my apple harvest, so I figured I would offer up some tips in a blog post on what worked well for me. I grew Granny Smith apples and Golden Delicious apples and harvested about 20 apples off of three trees.
Patience. If you plant apple trees today, you will not have an apple harvest next year. I planted my trees in early 2014 from bareroot stock. Fall 2016 is my first apple harvest. An apple harvest does not happen overnight. You have to tend to the trees and allow them to mature.
Cross Pollinators. Be careful with what type of fruit trees you buy. You usually need more than one variety to ensure cross pollination and subsequent fruit. I also have a pear tree, but because it’s partner died, I did not have any pears this year.
Spray for Pests. Many people have difficulty growing fruit due to pests. I spray dormant oil on the trees starting March, right before buds appear on the trees. The oil helps smother young insects and their eggs. I also sprayed the trees a few times later in the season with Spinosad, an organic insecticide that helps combat adult pests that frequently attack fruit trees such as thrips and aphids.
Proper Pruning. A good time to prune s late winter, before the trees bloom and grow a lot of leaves. Contrary to what you may think, having more branches on a tree does not increase your apple harvest.
Combat Critters. Where I live deer are the main threat to my apple harvest. They have chewed on the branches in the past, but as far as I can tell they did not eat any of my apples. I continue to spray with Liquid Fence, starting in March and continuously until the fruit has been picked.
For more information on how to prune fruit trees, battle pests and spray fruit trees, check out the Midwest Home Fruit Production Guide provided by The Ohio State University Extension Office.