Fruit Trees

My First Tree

 

Autumn trees
blmiers2 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

 

Almost everyone’s first tree experience has some embarrassing events. Nobody can be an expert right away; we all make mistakes that sometimes haunt us for years afterwards. Some of us make worse mistakes than others, though. I think that if there was an award for being the most naïve person to ever attempt growing a tree, I would win.

When I decided to plant a tree of my own, I had the perfect spot in mind. There was a gap between my house and my fence of about 5 feet. It was probably the least traveled area of my whole lawn, and I thought it could use something to spice it up. Maybe if I provided some lovely shade, it would become more used by my family. I envisioned a little picnic paradise in the shade, where my family could go just to be with each other and nature. Boy was I wrong.

I decided on a nice apple tree. Despite the risk of apples falling on our heads, I thought it would be a treat to sit under the shade and munch on delicious home grown apples. Just the thought of this romantic, poignant activity was enough to make me drive my self to the nursery and purchase the first apple tree in sight. I didn’t know enough about trees to look at the roots or any of the signs that it could be an unhealthy tree. I spent the required amount of money and had the tree delivered right to my house.

I dug the hole right where I wanted the tree. This took almost the rest of the day. Holes are an easy thing to underestimate. It’s easy to say that a hole will only take an hour or two, but once you actually start digging it usually progresses a lot slower than you would have estimated. By the time I actually got the hole big enough to fit the ball of roots, I certainly didn’t feel like digging another few feet around the perimeter as most tree planting guides suggest. I was just ready to place the tree. With the help of my morbidly obese neighbor, I lifted the tree across the yard and dropped it into my hole. Then, it was time to fill in the hole.

I couldn’t have been happier once I filled in that last shovel load of dirt. I stood back to admire my work. That was when my 3 year old daughter said something that crushed my spirits, and haunts me to this day. “Daddy, that tree stands up like grandpa!” My father is a great man, and if she had compared any other aspect of the tree to him I would have considered it an honor. But unfortunately his back has been deteriorating lately, and he can’t stand up very straight. I noticed that my tree did indeed have a similarity to his posture.

Thinking this was a problem that the tree would naturally outgrow, I decided to leave it for a while to see what happens. Every day I went out to check on the progress of the tree; to see if it was any straighter than it was the day before. I daily had my spirits crushed when I saw that it had not improved at all. Not wanting to put forth the effort of removing it from my yard, I decided to just forget about it. I never went over to that side of the house again and almost completely pushed the tree from my mind. I decided that if any problem ever came about from leaving the tree there, I would pack up my furniture and flee the state. That’s how much I was humiliated by my tree experience.

After about 3 years of completely ignoring that the tree ever existed, I was sitting in my house one day and heard a loud crash. I ran outside to see what the problem was, just to see that my tree had grown to such an unmanageable size that it had taken out my gutter and part of my neighbor’s fence. I moved out of state within a week.

Caring Properly for your Fruit Tree

 

Good year for apples! - EXPLORED
Axiraa / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

If you have just recently planted a new fruit tree, I think it is safe to assume you are not yet an expert on the subject. More fruit trees die in their beginning years due to poor care habits than any disease or pestilence. Therefore it is vital that you understand how to care for trees in a way that will ensure their immediate success as well as future good health.

During the first stages of the tree’s life, the roots, trunk, and branches have not yet fully developed to a self supporting strength. Therefore if your tree is growing fruits, occasionally the combined weight is enough to snap off an entire branch. If this is the case, you should provide external support for your branches – prop them up with boards, or tie them to something at a higher altitude. As long as you can provide your tree the support it needs in these early years, it should grow to be independent in no time at all.

Proper nutrition is not only necessary for the production of healthy fruits, but is also necessary for the tree to survive longer than one season. The exact specifications vary with the area, climate, and type of tree, but I’ve found that there is no better source than a nursery employee. Maybe they’re just eager to sell you the right type of fertilizer, but in my experience they are almost never wrong. Just inform them about the conditions your tree is living in and how healthy it is looking, and they should be able to help you find something to improve the state of your tree.

Lots of people think that the only way to ensure a tree’s healthiness is to provide it insane amounts of water. This is not the case at all. As a matter of fact, giving too much water to a tree can be more harmful than making it go thirsty. At the best it will have a negative effect on the taste of the fruit. But at worst, your entire tree could die and prevent you from ever growing fruit in the future. So do not ever try to solve your problems by giving it lots of water! Solve your tree’s health problems at the root, so to speak. Go to where the problem originates from, and fix that.

If it is too late and you’re already starting to see unhealthy branches that look either diseased or damaged, you should always remove them. If the tree is wasting nutrients by sending them out to the branch that cannot be saved, it is practically throwing away all the nutrients that it could use on the other, healthier branches. As soon as you start to see a branch that is deteriorating or becoming unhealthy, chop it off right away. At the very least, trim down the unhealthy part but leave all the segments that still look like they could continue growing.

Once your tree has started to enter the picking stage, never leave any of the fruit on the ground that is bound to fall. Also, be careful to get every piece off of the tree. Even if it is an ugly looking fruit that you don’t want to keep, you should still pick it and throw it away. Once these fruits begin to rot, they provide a perfect home for unwanted insects or diseases that can transfer to the tree itself. So always remember to rake up these fallen fruits, and prevent yourself a lot of future grief.

Getting a fruit tree and caring for it throughout its life can be a daunting task. It may even seem impossible sometimes to keep track of all the factors that make a tree healthy. But if you just pay attention to the nutrients that your tree needs, you should be on a good path. In addition to nutrients, figure out the precise amount of watering that you should be doing to keep your tree’s thirst quenched without drowning it. Just do all these things, and you will have a great tree that produces delicious fruits.

Different Types of Apple Trees

 

Apples on tree
Martin LaBar (going on hiatus) / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

In the past, there have been only a couple different kinds of apple trees that you could buy. But now, thanks to the wonders of genetic engineering, if you want to buy an apple tree you are able to choose between many different types of apples and flavors. Here I will outline five different popular types of apples that you can consider for your first apple tree.

First introduced in Japan, the Fuji apple has been around since 1962. The Fuji apple has yellow-green skin with red streaks down the side. The inside is delicious and sweet. It is white, firm, crunchy, and very flavorful. It becomes ripe in the middle of September, but tastes the best if it is left to fully mature until October or November. These apples will start growing early and grow in abundance. They are good for pollinating other apples. The Fuji tree can tolerate wet, dry, or poor soil, but the fruit quality will most likely reflect the quality of the soil. The apples always taste the best when they are fresh, and are great for cooking.

Gala apples are a wonderful tasting import from New Zealand. The Gala apple has yellow skin with a slight hint of red, and it is medium sized. The insides are yellow, very juicy, firm, crisp, and smell excellent. When they are fresh they are one of the best tasting apples you can grow. They grow quickly, and the trees bear heavily. They become ripe in late July. They are generally not used for cooking, just because Fuji is a better alternative. The trees can grow in wet, dry, and poor soil as well.

The delicious Brae Burn apples’ color varies from gold with red streaks to almost completely red. It was first popularized some time in the late 1940’s. It was also originally from New Zealand along with the Fuji, and is now the best selling apple in Germany. The insides are white, crisp, aromatic, firm, and juicy. They are sweet, but also slightly tart. The size varies from medium to large. They were introduced to the United States around 1980, and met with great enthusiasm. They are some of the most popular apples in the world. They generally don’t become brown too quickly after being cut. They become ripe around October or November.

As red as its name proclaims, the Red Delicious apple is very tall and large. Their yellow insides are crisp, sweet, juicy, and delicious. They are grown across the country, and are great to put in salads. They are usually recognized by their distinct heart shape. They were first introduced in 1874 in Peru, Iowa. They become ripe in mid to late September. They are usually best when they are fresh off the tree.

Golden Delicious apples have great, juicy flavor. Their insides are firm, white, crisp and sweet. They are great for cooking because even when they are cooked or baked they keep their great taste and shape. The skin is thin and soft. They are great for salads. They range in size from medium to large. They are shaped much like the red delicious apple. The insides are crisp, juicy, sweet, and mild. Many people enjoy them, although they bruise rather easily. They become ripe in late September. They are good for many purposes, and they last a long time if not handled roughly.

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