As home gardening becomes more popular, small fruit trees are also gaining popularity.  Apples are wonderful first trees to start in your yard-so this blog post focus will be on tips and information to help you understand and care for your trees.

PLANTING – When planting apple trees, as with all fruit trees, full sun and rich, dark, loose soil are important

PAIRING – You always need a pair of fruit trees in order to get fruit production, as trees are not self-pollinating.  Bees or other pollinators are needed to transport pollen from tree to tree in order to assure that a flower becomes a fruit.

MULCHING – Many fruit trees in MN are grafted, apples are no exception.  This means their root is from one type of tree, but their trunk, and sometimes fruiting branches, are from another type of apple tree. That combination controls the height, hardiness, type, and quality of fruit a tree will produce.  Grafted regions of the tree are typically at the base/top of the trunk.  They look like a wider area of growth or a scar.  These areas should NEVER be under soil or mulch as this causes suckering.

TRIMMING – If you want to trim your apple tree make sure to trim vegetative growth and not fruiting wood.  It is best to familiarize yourself with this process or call on a professional so that you don’t cut the wrong branches.  Always trim trees in late winter or early spring before temps exceed freezing.  By trimming in cool weather it is easiest to see where to cut, and less stressful for the tree to heal.

FERTILIZING – It is important to make sure your tree is fertilized to get the best fruit production.  Tree fertilizer sticks near the tree drip line (outter edge of tree branches), mixing compost, or composted manure around the base of the tree are some of the best options.  Other options for fertilizing would be watering with fruit tree fertilizer, or fish emulsion, before fruit entirely forms.  Any of these fertilizers will assist in producing a good fruit crop.

PEST CONTROL – Chemical treatment of pests is an option, but requires up to five treatments at particular times in the plant growth cycle.  For a more organic approach try wrapping red wooden balls with fly paper to attract insects.  Another option would be to hang cups of apple cider vinegar from the branches of the tree.  Insects will fly in and get trapped.

WINTERIZE – Always make sure to wrap or protect the trunks of your young trees from winter sun, as well as deer and rabbits.  Wrapping or plastic sleeves are very effective for this.