Are you new to growing apples? If you are then do yourself a huge favor and purchase our highly disease-resistant apple trees listed in the “Apples for Organic Growing” category. These are much easier to grow than your standard apples such as Honeycrisp and Gala. You will be more successful. Apple growing is not overly difficult but does require a good site with good water drainage and full sun, trees need some training and pruning and appreciate some organic sprays like kelp, compost tea and whey. Yes, whey that is made from milk. Also weed and grass control is essential. Please research the ATTRA organic farming website for more in-depth excellent information on growing organic apples(https://attra.ncat.org/product/apples-organic-production-guide/), and also you may wish to purchase the Backyard Fruit Production book available on our website below.
Rootstock Key: M111: A vigorous, well anchored, long-lived, drought tolerant rootstock that does great in heavy clay soils and also performs on lighter soil. Makes a somewhat large, 15-18′ tree if unpruned. Heavy fruit production.
M7: A excellent dwarfing rootstock that does great in much of the Eastern USA. Vigorous and quick to branch and fast to start fruit production (precocious). Makes a smaller tree that matures to about 12′. Not as well anchored as M111 and sometimes can lean, so please stake at planting with a sturdy post. Very popular in high-density plantings.
Geneva 11/969: Very dwarfing rootstock keeps trees small yet productive. Matures to only 8-10′. Needs support via stakes, posts or trellis. Produces fruit rapidly.
Growing Organic Apples:
Our experience in growing fruit trees has shown us that there is no better, more useful or productive fruit tree you can grow than an apple tree. However, choosing the right varieties is absolutely crucial. We focus on providing varieties which are not only productive and tasty, but which also have exceptional disease resistance to the many common apple tree diseases.
How many apples to plant? We recommend planting 5-10 apple trees for serious family production and use, or 3-4 for an individual who wants to have a few bushels of homegrown apples. Our varieties are adapted to do well in wet, humid climate zones and conditions, as found in Kentucky and the Southeast/Midwest and should thrive in similar climatic areas in the USA.
How far apart should you plant? It never hurts to give the trees a little extra space if you have it available. But in general M111 (semi-dwarf) apples should be planted about 18-20′ apart and M7 (Dwarf) apples about 12-16′ apart.
If you are wanting to grow organically or without using lots of sprays, pay attention to the varieties we note as “recommended for organic growing” and therefore disease-resistant and focus on these, even if you have never heard of the variety before. And, we absolutely recommend utilizing organic sprays every spring season for health and well-being of your trees including Surround, sulfur, copper, freshly made compost/garlic/comfrey “tea” as well as dormant oil every late autumn season. Trying to grow “organically” by not using sprays of any kind is wishful thinking that usually results in severely diseased trees with poor fruit quality.
Fertility is important too, so make sure every early spring (March-April) your trees are getting moderate doses of things like compost, aged manures, rotted wood chips and mulch. Go easy on chemical fertilizers, as too much nitrogen can lead to fireblight issues. That being said, chemical fertilizers work also but do not give optimal results. If any trees are not showing strong growth by May, side-dress with more compost, manures or fertilizers. No fertilizer after July. Keep mulch thick and away from tree trunks! Flattened cardboard under the mulch layer keeps things virtually weed free and encourages earthworms and moisture.
An asset with any apple planting is a small foot-long hardware-cloth tube placed at the bottom of the tree base, around the tree trunk. This will prevent mice and vole damage and also line trimmers from destroying your trees.