Archive for the ‘Trees’ Category

All About Apples!

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Growing up many of heard the stories of Johnny Appleseed. The stories were usually about how old Johnny traveled the country planting apple trees. We’ve visited old homesteads whose owners sometimes joked their apple trees were planted by Johnny Appleseed. Although some believe he was a myth, Johnny’s real name was John Chapman. John was born September 26th 1774 in Leominster, Massachusetts. Johnny Appleseed planted apple trees  in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and died at the age of 70 at Fort Wayne, Indiana. When thinking apples we remember apple pie on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and various rhymes like ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ or ‘squish squash applesauce.’ Whether you like your apple fresh, juiced, sauced, candied, or baked, most of us love our apples.

Apple trees come in many varieties.  Some of the most common are Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Red or Golden delicious, Fuji, Jonagold, Crabapple and so on. It doesn’t matter if your favorite is a sweet old granny or sour old crab, every variety has its own purpose and fan club. Each variety has an ability or use best suited for it, some are best fresh, while others are best in sauce, baking, juice etc.  These differences are due in part to sugar content, density, and skin thickness.

Although the trees you see in old orchards are very large and pruning is a huge undertaking, apple trees of today have changed drastically.  You can buy apple trees espaliered (flat on two sides), Columnar (little to no branching on a vertical fruiting trunk), Dwarf (not likely to grow above 10’) Orchard pruned (generally a compact dwarf) or Multi-variety producers (having 2-6 other apple varieties grafted onto the same trunk). Of course you can still by the original type trees which can grow very large.

Planting location:

Plant in full sun and no closer than 10’ apart (with the exception of columnar). Apples do well in a variety of soil types although well draining is often best.


Remove suckers in fall and spring. Suckers, or water suckers as some call them, produce little or nothing at all. You may not be a car salesman but you’ll know a sucker when you see one. Suckers grow straight up and can grow several feet per year. These fast growing suckers steal away nutrients that would otherwise go into fruit production. Without removing these unwanted guests your apples will not grow to full size, and the decreased air circulation and light within the tree canopy is a breeding ground for moss, mildew, and fungus. When pruning apples all vertical cuts should be made at a 45-degree angle. This angle reduces the chance of water sitting, causing rot. We recommend removing crossing branches from the center of the tree as well as all new vertical growth (columnar the exception). Over time this method encourages the formation of a nice tree canopy and low growing fruit.


During the winter and spring, watering is not generally necessary. As fruit begins to develop and the weather warms, watering can become important. Without watering your apple is usually pretty hardy even during hot seasons; however without watering in hot seasons your apples may not grow to full size and can shrivel up and drop off in the driest cases. Watering the root areas from the trunk to just beyond the edges of your tree canopy is best.  We like to see a deep watering at least 2-3 days per week in hot seasons with daily water during very hot spells.


Use a well-balanced fruit fertilizer found at most nurseries and Home Depot/Lowes.


Treat for most diseases and pests early in the spring before blossoms open. Many orchards spray the trees with either copper or sulfur before blossoming. There are many forms of pest control on fruit trees from chemical to organic. Consult your local nursery for your best options.

Choices, choices. These are the varieties we sell and recommend the most: (most come standard, dwarf, espaliered, columnar, or with multi-variety)

Braeburn: Reddish-yellow skinned apple that’s mid sized and crisp, has a long storage life and bears late in the season.

Fuji: Another great late season apple Fuji is prized for it’s medium to large fruit which has a yellow/green skin with red stripes.

Gala: An earlier season apple Gala is a great all around apple. Fruit is mid sized red/yellow color and yellow flesh, Sweet, juicy, and crisp.

Golden Delicious: Great fresh or in baking, these golden beauties are mid-large fruit with yellow skin producing mid-late season.

Granny Smith: The reliable old granny makes great pies, sauce, and of course is great fresh off the tree. This apple is a large mid season type.

Gravenstein: This apple produces early in the season large yellow skinned fruit with red stripes. Best fresh or in applesauce.

Honey Crisp: This mid sized/mid season producer like its name is sweet and crisp. Honey Crisp is a great all around apple.

Jonagold: When located in Monroe we had rows of these trees on our farm. They’re a mid/late season heavy producer of very large yellow skinned fruit with reddish stripes. We used Jonagold for fresh eating, baking, and juice.

Red Delicious: This mid season producer of large red apples is often a favorite. Although not related to the Golden delicious you can bet that these apples are tasty treats.

Spartan: These apples are deep red mid sized/mid season producers. These apples are a crisp and sweet wonderful treat.

Don’t see your favorite? Just contact us and we can usually find it.

From all of us at Sure Lawn,

Thank you for your patronage.

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