I’ve started other trees from seed. The most successful was this peach/nectarine that I planted about a year ago. No fruit, but it’s growing like gang busters.
My family eats a lot of apples, so I have plenty of seeds to work with. Figured why not give try growing an apple tree from seed? Let me pause at this point. If you’re impatient, this isn’t for you. Growing apples from seedling to tree will take years. My kids will probably be in highschool before I see any fruit, if I ever do. There are other potential issues. Some say the fruit won’t be true to the parent or might not taste good, but this has been proven wrong.
Why I’m doing this..There’s something about growing your own tree that intrigues me. Each one of those seeds is imprinted with a genetic code and everything it needs to grow. I just need to provide the soil, water and sun. Most of them probably won’t make it, but seeds don’t cost anything so there’s really nothing to lose.
The process is simple. When you finish with an apple, collect the seeds and store them. We’ve been eating a lot of Pink Lady /Cripps Pink (Pink Lady is a variety of Cripps Pink) which happen to be one of my favorite apples. I put the seeds in a ziplock bag and store in the refrigerator until I’m ready to plant. The refrigerator helps to stratify the seeds. Essentially it replicates the natural dormancy process the seed goes through over winter. You’ll find that some seeds you collect might have already started to germinate, like the ones below. This can happen when an apple is kept in cold storage for an extended period of time.
Planted some of the seeds I collected about a month, month and a half back and it was already pretty hot. Not sure that this is a problem for growing the seeds. However, when I’m ready to plant the actual tree I’ll want to wait for much cooler weather. Between the two pots I used 10 or 12 seeds. Nothing fancy, just regular potting soil and kept them moist and out of the direct sun. This is what I have now.
The Pink Lady/Cripps Pink should do well here. The tree originated in Australia so it’s used to the heat. Not sure about the humidity, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Those wonderful tree rats, AKA squirrels made sure that we wouldn’t get a chance to taste any apples from the backyard orchard this year.
In a previous post I showed the apples that were growing on my largest tree, a Dorsett Golden and how I thinned them to help the tree put on more growth this year.
In the end I left 4 apples. Unfortunately, over the course of the next 4 to 5 weeks the apples disappeared until I was down to just one. Then about a week ago the last apple was taken. This is all that was left. I was more than a little bummed. But I’m a human an apex predator, top of the food chain. There’s no way I’m going to be outdone by a rodent. This is the part where I will pause and tell you my wife and kids think I’m absolutely “nuts”, no pun intended, and have a squirrel obsession. Maybe, but I will say that I’m in good company. There are many other fruit growers out there with the same frustrations and “malicious” intent towards squirrels.
Queue up the creepy voice…**WARNING READ THE REMAINDER OF THIS POST AT YOUR OWN RISK, NOT FOR SQUIRREL LOVERS OR THE FAINT OF HEART**
What can you do about the squirrel scourge?? The honest answer is not much, there are too damn many of them. If you see 3 or 4 there are probably more like 20. In most major cities they’re considered a nuisance. Some will trap and relocate. That’s a joke because they simply become someone else’s problem. An air rifle works fine. However, depending on where you live that may or may not be an option. Then there is lethal trapping. The tube trap is a popular style and the one that I recently started using (pictured below, no squirrels were harmed..cough cough). A company called WCS sells them, which is where I bought mine. I’ve had a lot of success with this trap and it seems to have slowed them down a bit. Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll decide to relocate to a more squirrel friendly location. Time will tell.
About a month ago I purchased a red navel orange from our local citrus nursery it came in a 10 gallon pot(Flying Dragon). Wasn’t really intending to get another orange, but I tasted the fruit and was impressed with the flavor. No seeds and the one I had was sweet but not overly and just juicy enough. Let’s face it, living in Florida you can never have enough citrus..
The red navel or cara cara is thought to be a cross between a Washington navel and a Brazilian Bahia, so it was essentially a genetic mutation. Not all mutations are good, but this one is definitely a winner.
Here’s the young tree, the foliage is much darker green than my other citrus. Not sure if that’s the nature of the red navel or it’s just healthy. It does have a few small fruits on it and you can see in the second picture that it’s getting ready to blossom. Hoping this will be an orange making machine.
Feeling a sense of confidence from my recent apple grafting success I wanted to give it a try with pears. I’ve got a total of 4 pear trees in my backyard orchard. Pineapple, Kieffer, Flordahome and Leconte. None of which have yielded any fruit. The Flordahome is a recent addition, and the Kieffer almost died from a fire blight strike that nearly took out the entire tree. Fortunately, I was able to save it.
Anyway, I connected with someone on the growingfruit.com site who had some spare Harrow Delight wood and was kind enough to send it to me free of charge. Some of it was already showing signs of leafing out, so I started grafting as soon as the wood arrived. I mostly used the whip and tongue technique same as I did with the apple trees. In addition I tried a cleft graft. The jury is still out on whether that one will take.
Harrow is supposed to be blight resistant, which is good. On the other hand based on what I’ve read it requires pollinators that I don’t have. In addition the chill requirements are more than double what we get here in north Florida.
Here are a couple of pics from the Leconte pear graft. It’s already showing signs of life. While that’s encouraging, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will fruit. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this experiment pans out. Stay tuned.
For all backyard “orchardists” or anyone with young fruit trees the subject of fruit thinning is a tricky one. The tendency for most newbies is to want to get as much fruit as quickly as possible. I’ll admit I’m guilty of that myself.
Unfortunately, that’s not always what’s best for the long term production of the tree. So, you have to ask yourself, does the short term reward of getting a little bit of fruit early on outweigh the long term gain of a healthy tree that produces bushels for you down the road??
My Dorsett Golden is flush with apples. Some of the branches have clusters of 3 and 4. However, my dreams of homemade apple pies, apple sauce, baked apples, apple butter, etc, must be tempered with reality. It’s just not good to have that much fruit on a tree this young. A tree this size should really only have one per cluster and ideally not up high like they are here.
Another good rule of thumb is one apple per 30 leaves. Like I’m going to count all of the leaves on this tree. The easiest way is to simply thin it to one or two apples per cluster which is what I’m going to do. That way, I’ll still get some fruit and the tree will be able to put the extra energy in to getting bigger for next year. It’s all about planning ahead..
Was out walking around the yard yesterday when I noticed this. No your eyes are not deceiving you. Those are tiny leaves coming out of the branch I grafted..
Turns out the Roxbury Russet graft to the Big River apple actually took. I was pretty surprised. Several of the other grafts look like they are going to make it as well. The big question is whether a high chill variety like Roxbury will work on low chill trees. Time will tell.
Either way, the success is encouraging. This opens up a whole new realm of apple varieties to us. I’ve got some additional scion wood coming, Kanzi, Pink Lady and Gold Rush. Will be excited to get them grafted to the trees and see what they do.
Exactly 2 years ago to the day I planted a couple of pineapple guava plants at the front of the house. Maybe there’s something special about the two year mark that nature finally decides to do her thing. Whatever the case while I was making the rounds I noticed this blossom. Kind of hard to miss.
There were only the two, but it was an encouraging sign that at some point I might see a few more and maybe even get a little bit of fruit.
Not sure if it’s really spring, or we just went right into summer. In any case, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to put a garden in this year. However, the beautiful weather coulpled with my mascohistic tendencies seem to have gotten the better of me.
The plot was completely overrun with weeds, but I was able to get that squared away after a good hour of digging. It was pretty warm out, my wife brought me some water and suggested I take a break..I couldn’t, once I get started on something I need to finish it…
Mixed in whatever was left from the composting bin and then made mounds to plant the seeds. I overplanted so once things start sprouting I’ll need to thin them out.
This year I used a grease pen and row markers so I could remember what I planted and where. Here’s a list of what I planted, everything is from seed, so I have my doubts about the tomatoes. Will just have to wait and see:
tomatoes (Early Girl and beefsteak)
It’s been a dry spring, so I’m having to supplement by watering from the rain barrels and they’re almost empty. May reinstall the drip irrigation if it get’s to be too much of a hassle.
The prospect of grafting one apple variety onto another is appealing for a number of reasons.First, if you’re successful you can get multiple apple varieties from one tree, which in and of itself is pretty cool, second by virtue of the first you have the advantage of saving space. You don’t need to plant as many trees. Just graft away to your hearts content and have as many varieties of apples as you want.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’d barely consider myself and amateur grafter. My first attempt about 2 years ago wasn’t successful.
While I had done some research, I was just too anxious to do something and in doing so made some rookie mistakes. Here they are.
Don’t graft in the winter. Grafting should really take place during the spring when the tree is growing.
Shorten up the scion (grafting wood), you really only need to have a couple of buds on the scion (grafting wood) for it to work. The longer the scion the more chance there is for it to dry out.
Make sure the surfaces of the graft are flush and the graft is wrapped tight and sealed. I used the whip and tongue grafting method pictured below because it seemed the easiest to me.
It’s best to work with trees that have a similar blossoming time, although in my case I did not.
There are lots of places where you can exchange or get different kinds of scion wood. I got mine from someone on the growingfruit.org site. I won’t bore you with the details, you can find tons of information out there. A great source besides growingfruit.org is Steven Edholm’s site, skillcult.com. Steven is a master at grafting and has numerous videos on the subject.
I grafted about 5 pieces of Roxbury onto to my various trees (3/15). Here are a few pictures of the final result. My grafts are wrapped with electrical tape and then sealed up with Tanglefoot pruning sealer. Word of advice, if you use this stuff wear gloves.
I’m not expecting all of the grafts to make it. If it’s only one or two I’ll be thrilled. At this point the grafts have been in place for about 2 weeks and (knock wood) don’t show any signs of drying out. Let’s hope the trend continues.