Apples: they're good to the core!
The pre-historic Apple has endured to become one of the most popular fruits in the world today. Depending on your belief system apples have been known to the human race since time began. Just ask Adam! Carbonized remains of apples have been found dating back to the Stone Age so there is no doubt that the Apple has always been part of our food chain. With over 10,000 different known varieties there is bound to be an aple to suit your gardening style and your palate.
Apples make up 18% of all horticultural exports from New Zealand generating an income of $300 million plus. How about "them apples"? Apples are rich in fibre, calcium, potassium and Vitamin C. The Vitamin C content is found just under the skin so it is best to munch with the skin on. So you can see why an Apple day helps keep the Doctor away.
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Apples are members of the Rose family and require similar growing conditions. They are happiest planted in a sunny, sheltered position. They can tolerate quite a range of soil types but they demand good drainage. It is also very important not let the soil around your Apple tree dry out completely during the summer. Some Apples are self-fertile (or partially so) which simply means they can produce fruit without a pollination partner i.e. a companion Apple tree. However, most Apple cultivars need a companion tree close by to provide cross pollination to ensure fruiting.
In urban areas pollination of Apple trees is seldom a problem as the popularity of Apples ensures there will be plenty of pollination partners in your neighbourhood that the bees will easily find. As a general rule good cross-pollination will occur if you plant Apple varieties that flower and fruit around the same time. If you are short on space you could choose a double grafted cultivar (2 varieties on 1 tree) and that will take care of any worries about the Apple's sex life! Most Apple trees in New Zealand are grown on semi-dwarf root stock which means they will seldom reach more than 5m. You can maintain your trees at lower height by careful pruning in the winter. These days you can also choose Apple varieties that are narrow and upright in habit (look for the name "Ballerina") and these can easily be grown in a container. Refer to our main fruit tree page for further planting and pruning information.
Most apples mature between February and March. The best way to test fruit maturity is by sampling! Storage should be in a cool dark place or if you prefer surplus Apples can be processed into Apple Sauce or Cider.
Some Apples can be damaged by Codling Moth. This can be controlled organically by placing Pheromone traps in your trees in late spring. The Pheromone entices the Male Codling Moth into the trap. This means he can't mate with the Female and therefore the lifecycle of this Apple pest is interrupted. Check your Apples regularly for signs of other pests and diseases and treat with your preferred method of control remembering not to spray insecticide at blossom time. Good cultivation habits will prevent most pest and disease problems. You can also choose disease resistant cultivars many of which are known as "Heritage" Apples. These varieties have stood the test of time - they often have a unique texture and flavour and are generally known as good doers.
And to finish............How do you make an Apple Turnover? Roll it down a Hill!