Planting Apple Trees

There’s something nice about breaking ground to plant a tree. It seems like a bit bigger of a deal than planting a tomato plant. The idea that these trees will be around for our kids’ kids to eat is pretty exciting.

We planted the four varieties we picked up on a field trip next to our perennial garden. After mixing in a lot of manure and topsoil, we mulched them. We gave the trees about fifteen feet of space, as the Canadian Encyclopaedia of Gardening recommended for their M26 root stock. We don’t fully understand root stocks, but the M26 allows the tree to grow to a larger size than some dwarf varieties.

It’s incredible that you can graft a specific variety onto a rootstock and have it remain true-to-type, yet the rootstock still dictates the size of the overall tree. Feel free to enlighten us on how this balance works.

You can see (above left) where the original rootstock tree was severed to allow the grafted bud become the new tree. It’s crazy to think how that tiny piece of genetics can take hold. On the right is one of the two, larger, three-year-old Tolman Sweet trees we got for my dad’s birthday. They’ll be producing delicious apples soon–long before the small one-year-old “whips” at the top.

Things have been really busy for us. We’re renovating a new house, moving, and I’ve been doing lots of freelance work, so the garden is a little behind. It’s really hard to keep it in mind when there seem to be more “important” things. (I even forgot my camera for these apple posts, so fittingly had to use my own Apple iPhone…)

Planting trees is a great feeling, and we’ve got the rest of the garden slowly coming along. As always, we don’t want it to become negative or a burden, so we do what we can, and so should you.


  • I love planting new fruit trees! We have stopped (I say stalled) at 12, but it is still something that I burn to do every spring and fall. I don't have any peaches yet! I also maintain a small orchard with 15+ trees (plum, peach, pear, and apple) so there no good reason to plant more, but I can't help wanting to.

    We also have to stop gardening periodically because obligatory life does not always leave room for the wishful life. Thus the unsown seeds sitting on the washer, the extra gallons of (un-cheesed) milk in the fridge, and 15 lbs. of pork belly in the freezer, still waiting to become bacon+ after 6 months.

  • It's tough not to get in over your head on this kind of thing. I've got some stuff fermenting in the basement I haven't touched. And I really should have more seeds started… I think the key is not beating yourself up over things you don't get too. There's plenty of time.

    Your orchard is very impressive! There are only 7 fruit trees at my parents' farm where we grow our food, but there is a wonderful wild pear tree that always produces a ton of fruit. It's a bartlett tree, so I'm not sure that it's truly wild… but it's from well before our time.

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