When it comes to home gardening, most people think about vegetables and herbs. Rarely do they consider fruit trees such as apple trees. While apple trees can be challenging to care for, I’ve had some success over the years with an apple harvest.
Today I’m sharing my tips to achieve a successful home apple crop n your backyard. The year I had my best harvest I picked 20 apples from two trees in my backyard. These are the tactics I used to keep the trees healthy and preserve the harvest.
Growing Your Own Apples
The year I had my great apple bounty was 2016. That was a year I devoted much time and energy to my apple trees in my home garden. Here are the notes I took that year:
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 apple crop this year!
At our recent neighborhood block party I fielded many questions about my fruit 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.
Here are my suggestions and tips to achieve the best apple harvest possible in the home garden:
Patience. If you plant apple trees today, you will not be picking apples next year. I planted my trees in early 2014 from bare root stock. Fall 2016 was my first year to harvest. An apple crop 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 its 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 harvest.
Combat Critters. Where I live deer are the main threat to my 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.
It is possible to enjoy a fall home apple harvest. Using these tips above you can achieve success with your home gardening. Apples may not be the easiest to grow but it’s possible to enjoy a good amount of home grown apples.
Do you have any questions about growing apples? Comment below.
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.
*This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.