Friday, January 11, 2013

Apple Trees

My husband Stephen LOVES apples, and eats at least 2 every day. His Birthday is in the Spring and so I thought that a perfect gift would be apple trees. As they grow and produce fruit it will be like giving him a little happiness every day. So I did some research on heritage trees available in Canada and on some of the more cold tolerant varieties that would grow in my orchard space. There are so many amazing varieties available but for now we will limit ourselves to just a few. If everything works out well, I can take cuttings called scions off our trees and graft new ones over time, or purchase new trees. Our new orchard in going to be near the old one on a south facing slope with good water and air drainage. We're zone 5.

We ordered our 8 new apple trees from a grower we know in B.C. named Harry Burton on Salt Spring Island. He grows many heritage apple trees and grafts from his own stock. We have seen and heard good things from other people and we've actually visited his orchard and eaten his apples too. He is supplying our apple trees grafted onto MM111 root stock which will make the trees about 80% of their natural size and much hardier and drought tolerant than their dwarf counterparts. This means we'll need a ladder for picking fruit once the trees are established but also means longer life and stronger trees. Any fruit we miss while picking will simply windfall and become food for the animals and birds so it's not a loss really. One other bonus is that larger trees spaced 15-18 feet apart allow for livestock grazing without much tree damage thereby adding manure to the orchard while keeping the grass down and providing shade during hot weather, a win/win situation for a self-supporter. Our trees will come bare rooted and will need to be soaked and planted as early as the weather allows. You'll notice that varieties are selected for different qualities. Some ripen early and some late, some are for cooking and some store well. We should have an apple season from August to November/December and then apples in storage through the winter. Some apples, like Ashmeads Kernel actually taste better after they've been stored for a month or two. Here's a little info about the apple trees we're getting, and Happy Early Valentine's/Birthday Steve!

Ashmeads Kernel  Hardy to zone 5.
This apple has an appearance that can be deceiving. Ashmead's Kernel is lumpy, misshapen, and rather small, but has remained popular for well over 3 centuries, and with good reason: it has a distinctive flavor that you will rave about because it is quite different from most other varieties.
This dessert apple is outstandingly rich and tart, flattish in shape, about the size of a Gala or Jonathan, and half-russetted over gold. The apple sweetens as it stores and stores successfully for up to twelve months.
The fruit is generally picked in October for use between December and February. It makes a good apple juice or applesauce because of its sweet sharp flavor. It is a late season pollinator which means it is not self-fertile but it can pollinate other apple trees.

Bramley  Hardy to zone 4.
Firm, juicy, sharply acid flesh, and late to mature. Bramley's apple is a traditional cooking apple of the British Isles. The fruit is large, flat, greenish yellow with broad broken brown and red stripes. Bramley's Seedling cooks to perfection with rich juice and no hard pieces. These qualities make it a good apple for making cider, and it is extremely high in Vitamin C content. The tree is large, a vigorous grower, and has a spreading habit. It blooms late, will survive during a frost period, and is a heavy, regular bearer. It requires a pollinator and ripens early October to early November depending on location. An apple from my childhood. Not a dessert apple, as every child learns.

Cox's Orange Pippin
It has a striking and attractive orange-red coloring and is definitely a superb looking and extremely tasty apple. Its medium-sized fruit has yellow skin blushed with orange-red and striped with crimson brown. Another apple from my childhood, this was the apple that taught me to be patient and not to eat green apples which are just plain nasty and make your tummy hurt! The Cox Orange Pippin is grown for cider, cooking, and eating. The fine-textured, creamy white flesh ripens mid-fall to early winter and will not tolerate extreme cold, heat or low humidity. This upright, spreading tree is covered in pure white, cup-shaped flowers in mid and late spring, followed by first class, juicy dessert apples for harvesting in early to mid-October. This is a finicky tree and is susceptible to mildew and scab I believe so will require some careful feeding, thinning of fruit, pruning and lots of TLC but I wanted to try it anyways as an homage to my father who planted a dwarf Cox's Orange Pippin in our back garden in Crawley, Sussex when I was a small girl.

Hidden Rose aka Aerlie's Red Flesh
An amazing red fleshed apple hidden underneath green skin. This is a recent discovery that has skin ranging in colour from pale green to yellow and deep rose red flesh. The mature apples have a juicy, crisp, hard, sugary and rich flavour and ripen late in October then keep through the winter. The best tasting of all the red fleshed varieties according to apple connoisseurs and always a good seller at the fruit stand or market when ripe in November. I know they grow successfully in Maine, USA so I am hoping they will grow in our orchard as well because this is one I'd like to try grafting next year.


Honey Crisp  or Honeycrisp  Hardy to zone 3.
Honeycrisp apples are highly rated for flavor and storage consistency and are a favourite variety grown here in the Annapolis Valley due to their storage ability and the hardiness of the trees. In mid-spring Honeycrisp’s pink buds open into clusters of fragrant white blossoms.  The compact nature of the pointed green foliage makes this an attractive tree throughout the summer.  In the fall, the leaves transform into a lovely shade of yellow as a harbinger of winter. There’s nothing like biting into that first juicy apple right off the tree in late September! The Honeycrisp is known for being especially crisp and juicy.  It’s great for eating right off the tree or for baking. The apples don’t immediately drop when ripe, so you can take your time in picking them.  It maintains its color well in storage and can be in cold storage for 6 months before the quality is lessened.


Mutsu aka. Crispin                                Hardy to Zone 4 
The Mutsu Apple tree is a cross between Golden Delicious and Indo apple. It was first developed in Japan. In fact, it’s quite prized there as a dessert apple and referred to as a “million dollar apple” for the high prices it commands. It blooms in April and fruit is ripe in early October. Once you taste a Mutsu apple, you’ll wonder if you’ve ever really tasted an apple before. Apples are crisp and juicy with an alluring hint of tartness Some say the flavor is closer to apple cider than simply an apple itself. Mutsu apples tend to be quite large; with a round shape and yellow coloration that has green tones. It has creamy white flesh and is delicious eaten right off the tree. This tree tends to be a prolific producer and the apples store pretty well too.

This is an excellent dessert and multi-use apple. You can pick then early and use for cooking or wait until they ripen to a lovely red. The flavour of the juicy white flesh is described as sprightly and vinous. Resistant to scab, fire blight and apple cedar rust but can sometimes be biennial. Thinning fruit can help with this but another management strategy is just to plant more trees and try to have one set of trees fruit one year and another set the next year. The photo credit for this image goes to Adams Apples. Check out his blog

William's Pride
Perhaps the best flavored of the older disease-resistant apples.  Another PRI introduction.  Long harvest requires 2 or 3 pickings which helps to avoid an overburden in the kitchen.  Attractive fruit with an 80% dark red stripe on a green-yellow background.  Resistant to scab, fire blight, powdery mildew, and cedar apple rust.  Short shelf life. Early, the first one likely to ripen in our orchard followed by Wealthy and Honeycrisp.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Elizabeth,
    We are in the Mahone Bay area (we are also from BC) and have an order in with Harry. Are you interested in looking at combining our shipments - we have 9 trees ordered - to save money. We could figure out splitting the shipment either from here or your place.
    Let me know.
    Orrin Murdoch