The Expert’s Guide to Growing Your Very Own Delicious Apples

The Expert's Guide to Growing Delicious Apples and How to Pick Them

Everyone should try their hands at growing apples. They’re are one of nature’s greatest gifts, and are packed with goodness. Knowing which ones to grow and how to begin is a mystery to many. The good news is it’s a good deal more straightforward than you think.

Apples vie for the top spot with grapes when it comes to the UK’s most popular fruit. Actually, they might have taken back the coveted top spot by the time this piece has been published as they’re (if possible) becoming even more popular every day.

We asked Shannen Godwin of J. Parker’s what the lure of apples is; she told us, “Apples, apart from being very delicious, also have plenty of health benefits that attract consumers from millennials, gen X, to baby boomers. Although local stores might import many varieties, if you look into your backyard, you can open yourself up to a few more options which do well in our climatic conditions.”

As much as we’d like to consider ourselves experts when it comes to apples, sadly, we’re not. Luckily for us, J.Parker’s, one of the UK’s leading plant and bulb company’s is and below, they’ve provided some advice on the different varieties of apples you can plant in your garden. In addition to this, they’ve also been king enough to explain how to grow and take care of them and why it is that planting and harvesting your own is better than buying a set from the store.

Some of the varieties of apples available in the UK

The different apple varieties available
Apples are very diverse fruits. Globally, there are about 7,000 varieties that exist. In the UK, you can find 2,500 of these. This means that you could try a different UK variety every day for more than six years.

Sadly, it’s hard to get access to all these varieties should you want to fully experiment. Moreover, supermarkets in the main, sell the gala and Braeburn varieties, both of which are New Zealand natives. These two alone make almost half of British apple sales.

Someone carefully picking an Elstar apple from a tree

The Elstar Apple
The Elstar apple is a medium-sized apple with red skin mixed with yellow showing and is an offspring of the Golden Delicious. It was first developed in the Netherlands in the 1950s before being introduced to the rest of the world. However, it is not very popular in the UK.

The Elstar is used mostly as a dessert apple. It has white flesh with a crispy and soft texture. Alternatively, you can use it for cooking to make apple sauce.

For the garden, the Elstar apple can be grown with a dwarf rootstock that will ensure the tree remains compact. You can use the plant as an excellent patio feature. Thanks to its small size, the tree can be planted in pot plants as small as 1.5L.

The Bramley Apple
The Bramley apple is an apple cultivar that is more often than not eaten cooked because of its sourness. However, there are many people who prefer to eat it raw as it helps to cleanse their palate.

The Bramley apple is used for cooking tarts, pies, or dumplings. When cooked, it turns golden and fluffy with a lighter flavour. Many people consider it to be the best English apple for cooking.

Bramley’s seedling trees are very hardy. They can also be large, vigorous, and long-living. From April to May, they generate beautiful white flowers that attract birds and butterflies into the garden. Once the tree is established, the fruit will ripen, making it perfect for picking from October onwards.

If you intend to grow this apple tree, you’ll need a pollinator since it is self-sterile. In addition, you can get it grafted onto a dwarf rootstock to limit how high it grows.

The Red Devil Apple
The red devil apple is a new variety of apple trees that produces fruit with unusual red flesh. It is a very juicy apple with a hint of strawberry flavours. Compared to similar varieties, its flesh is not as pink, although the flavours are more pronounced.

This apple variety is self-fertile, making it an ideal choice if you wish to plant only one apple tree in a small garden. The tree is also a heavy cropper, grows upright while spreading, and is moderately vigorous.

In spring, the apple red devil generates beautiful pink-red blossoms before producing fruits in September. It also has great disease resistance, especially from mildew and scab. You can prune it to restrict its growth or plant it in large containers.

Golden Delicious Apples
The Golden Delicious is among the most recognisable apples in the market. It’s also the parent stock of many favourite apples that have been grown over the years.

The mid-size fruit of this variety ripens from October to November. The apple golden delicious hails from West Virginia, so it prefers a warm climate which allows it to get that sweet-honeyed tasting fruit. The Golden Delicious is mainly consumed as fresh fruit, although it can also be used for cooking.

The tree attracts butterflies from April to May when it blooms with beautiful white flowers that create a wonderful show. It’s also a good pollinator for other apple trees.

The apple golden delicious is a great choice for growing in larger gardens. However, if you’re somewhat restricted on garden space, it can be grown in large containers.

How many apples can you get from a tree over its lifespan?
One of the age-old questions, and it mostly depends on the size of the tree. If you use the newer high-density plantings that use trees on dwarfing rootstocks, you can expect about 200 to 300 apples per tree.

Older apple plantings produce considerably more than this. You can get anywhere between 700 to 800 apples from the tree over its lifespan.

Image showing the correct way to pick an apple from a tree, using a cupped hand.

How do you pick apples from a tree?
Once you’ve grown your apples, the next step is getting them from the tree. Apples need to be picked by hand. The best way to do this is to cup it at the palm of your hand, lift it, then provide a gentle twist until it comes away. Make sure each apple detaches completely with its stalk.

How will you know they’re ready to be harvested?
Most apples will have their skin colour deepen when they’re ripe. Fruits at the top and sides of the tree are usually the first to ripen since they receive the most sunlight.

Read more gardening features in our lifestyle section here.

The Expert's Guide to Growing Your Very Own Delicious Apples 2


Editorial Team

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