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Apple tree experts please...

(12 Posts)
WilfSell Mon 11-Aug-08 10:55:52

Help! Lots of questions:

We have two mature apple trees and one crab apple in the garden of our newish house.

They are cropping now but all/most of the apples seem covered in black spots and very mis-shapen...

Is this disease/fungus or wot? Can we still eat the apples?

And how do I tell when they're ripe? One tree seems to be dropping apples all over the place but many seem rotten already.

Am an utter novice so really need to know what I can do for the medium/long-term: will I need some kind of specialist pruning?

And, er, how do I get apples down that are at the very top? grin

HuwEdwards Mon 11-Aug-08 11:00:40

Am no expert, but we have an apple tree. If you peel those with black spots, you'll prob find that the spots are only peel deep and the apples are ok.

May be obvious, but don't eat the crab apples.

Yes, there windfall has been horrendous this year, most of ours are gone.

I just pick ours when they look a reasonable size (ours is a cooking apple variety)

We inhertited in our house a long pole with a small wire holder at the top, we hold the pole up so that the apple sits in the little wire holder and after a jiggle, they come off!

WilfSell Mon 11-Aug-08 11:04:53

Thanks Huw. I was planning on making crab apple jelly with the crabs...

I think the previous owner said we had one cooking apple and one eating apple but have no idea how to tell... Presumably wait for a bit until they should be ripe and then just bite!?

HuwEdwards Mon 11-Aug-08 11:13:00

Will, do the apples on either tree (not the crab)look bigger than those on the other?

We have a few trees in our garden (a cherry and an oak) and get them pruned about once every 3 years. Not sure if this is correct, but seems to work for us.

One thing that did happen a few years ago was that I planted a shrub at the base of the apple tree. No apples that year and a gardener told me apple trees don't like you buggering about at their base!

GentleOtter Mon 11-Aug-08 11:13:47

Here is a link to diseases of the apple tree
It is normal for apple trees to shed some unripe fruit or if they have been battered by fierce weather.

When was it last pruned? It should be comfortably high enough to stand on a chair in order to gather the apples.

In winter, clear all the grass from around the base of the trees (an old carpet or thick cardboard collar would do) then feed it in spring and plant garlic and chives round it. They take a couple of years to work but have antibacterial properties and are symbiotic with apple trees.

HuwEdwards Mon 11-Aug-08 11:16:50

ooh Otter, some good tips there - thanks!

GentleOtter Mon 11-Aug-08 11:18:59

<Guilty of buggering about with the base of apple trees>

WilfSell Mon 11-Aug-08 11:25:52

GentleOtter, the two apples are much bigger than that! Erk! The crab apple is small.

I've just remembered we have a third one up against a wall also - fruit looks healthier on that one.

If we do prune them back, is it right that you need to do it over a few years?

Will pruning them if they're over grown just kill them?

Do you know if apples have a 'lifetime' IYSWIM - are they just too old now?

GentleOtter Mon 11-Aug-08 11:35:33

Sometimes apple trees just come to the end of their life.sad

They can be rejuvenated with a pruning plan- is there a reputable gardener in your area or an orchard that could advise you how best to prune? (There are too many cowboys unfortunately and you need an expert)

Pruning them will not kill them but it is a case of pruning them at the right time when they are dormant.
It sounds like they have scab and you would need to burn all the prunings and fallen leaves well away from the trees themselves. The apples are ok to eat they just look a bit hmm

Crab apples are much smaller than eating or cooking apples but may be a bit more stunted if you have had lots of hot weather and not watered the trees.

GentleOtter Mon 11-Aug-08 11:38:40

Pruning old apple trees video
Sorry about Gloria Hunniford at the beginning!

WilfSell Mon 11-Aug-08 11:39:09

Thanks for your advice GO. Will search out someone who knows...

GentleOtter Mon 11-Aug-08 11:41:49

One last thing - smear the cut wood with earth from the base of the tree as it contains it's own antibacterial properties and is less likely to suffer infections.

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