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RHS offers tips on growing apples
3:14pm Wednesday 27th October 2010 in Homes & Gardens
Just one bite of a ripe, crisp apple picked straight off the tree should be enough of a mouth-watering experience to make most gardeners want to grow at least one variety in their own garden.
Apples are the taste of autumn and there are many apple events at this time of year around the country.
Yet, apples are not difficult to grow and there are enough varieties to cater for virtually any amount of space you may have, even if you only have room for one in a container.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has now launched a new apple guide offering tips on choosing a variety, cultivation and troubleshooting.
Apples can be grown in a range of forms, including traditional open-centred trees, cordons (single stem with short side-shoots) and espaliers (trained to grow on a flat plane, often symmetrical and against a wall or fence). You need to choose your tree according to the space available.
There is also a wide range of rootstocks, from dwarfing to vigorous, but for a medium-sized bush tree or a cordon, choose the semi-dwarfing M26 rootstock.
To crop well, apple trees also need pollination from another tree, so be sure to choose varieties from the same or a close pollination group.
Bare-root trees can be planted when dormant, from late autumn until early spring. Apples thrive in a well-drained soil, at least 60cm (2ft) deep. Add well-rotted organic matter before planting and mulch and water through the growing season until your tree is growing well.
Apples prefer a sheltered, frost-free position in full sun, though providing they receive half a day’s sunshine in the growing season they will tolerate some shade.
In early spring sprinkle a balanced general fertiliser around the base. To ensure the best crop, prune the tree every year.
Apple trees can suffer from a variety of common problems such as brown rot, apple scab and other diseases, often derived from poor levels of calcium, erratic watering or wet summers. The RHS apple guide offers advice on how to alleviate these problems.
l Full details of how to grow your own apples and other fruit and vegetables can be found on the RHS website at www.rhs.org.uk/ Gardening/Grow-Your-Own.
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