Apple tree care and general pruning rules
The GardenAdvice team are often asked about apple trees by a lot of clients, the key really is to set them up in the later autumn and winter months which will generate some great fruit later in the autumn.
Winter wash – when all the leaves have fallen and the trees are dormant you can treat the trees with a wash of vitax winter wash and a second application of jeyes fluid. This needs to be applied with a spray set to a jet so that it runs down the stems and trunks into all the cracks in the bark etc killing all the overwintering pest eggs and fungal spores which are just waiting to jump onto the new spring growth.
Although this method is not fully organic as it’s a winter operation it will not affect any bees plus will reduce the need to treat the apple trees in the spring and summer.
Feeding – When applying the winter wash this is a good time to apply a general fertilizer such as Growmore which is ideally as it low in nitrates and high in potash. Generally a couple of handfuls spread under the tree will be effective.
Companion planting – in winter creating a bed around the base of the apple trees by removing some grass then sowing a few calendula officinalis and tagetes. Very easy to grow and colourful they create an area that supports lacewings which in turn eat the aphids on your apple tree.
General pruning basics for apple trees – best carried out in late winter early spring before flowering and the spring leaf break.
Normally an apple tree will have two types of growth. The first being the fruiting buds stems with short stubby nodes or buds about 5mm to 10mm long with rings around the base, these are the fruiting buds and these stems need leaving unless you are reshaping the apple tree because these buds are next crop of flowers and fruit.
The second type of stem is the long thin stem normally growing straight up normally on top of the tree making it look like a spiky haircut. These need to be pruned back to about 75mm as these are summer shoots and will not flower or fruit.
Some summer shoots can be left if needed to help reshape the tree.