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Permaculture Plants: Apple Trees




  • This is the first of hopefully many entries on specific plants to be used in a Permaculture System.  I attempted to document every aspect of a plant that would be useful, but I am sure there are things I missed.  However, this should be a fairly holistic overview.
     

    Heirloom Apples
    Common Name: Apple

    Scientific Name: Malus domestica or pumila
    Family: Rosaceae

    Description:
    Hardly needs description.
    Moderate sized tree to small dwarf trees.

    History:
    Originated in Western Asia (Turkey?). Likely the first tree to be cultivated. First brought to the U.S. in the 17th Century.

    Trivia:
    China is the main producer of apples. The U.S. is second.


    USING THIS PLANT
    Primary Uses:

    • Fresh eating, cooking
    • Fresh juice
    • Drying
    • Preserving
    • Fermenting: Cider, Apple Jack




    Secondary Uses:

    • Coppicing: possible, but not a main tree for this



    Dynamic Accumulator: Fair potassium accumulator
    The term “Dynamic Accumulator” is used by Dave Jacke in Edible Forest Gardens as a way to describe plants that either keep nutrients around (like in fallen autumn leaves) or pull nutrients up from the subsoil.

    Beneficial for Animals/Insects:

    • Winter fruit
    • General Nectary



    Yield:

    • Standard 100-400 lbs (45-180 kg)
    • Semi-dwarf 77-155 lbs (35-70 kg)
    • Dwarf 55-120 lbs (25-55 kg)



    Harvesting: Harvest when ripe

    Storage: Store in cool place


    DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT
    Zone: 3-9
    Plant Type: Tree to shrub
    Forest Garden Use: Canopy to Shrub Layer
    Cultivars/Varieties: Over 7,500 cultivars
    Pollination:

    • Most require cross-pollination
    • Note that not all species will cross-pollinate – review a chart before planting. Here is one example.



    Flowering: May-June

    Life Span
    Years to Begin Bearing:

    • Standard 5-8 yrs
    • Semi-dwarf 4 yrs
    • Dwarf 3 yrs



    Years to Maximum Bearing:

    • Standard 10 yrs
    • Semi-dwarf 10 yrs
    • Dwarf 5 yrs



    Years of Useful Life:

    • Standard 35-100 yrs
    • Semi-dwarf 30-50 yrs?
    • Dwarf 10-30 yrs




    PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT




    Graphic showing the different sizes of rootstocks.

    Table showing characteristics of some rootstocks.



    Size: Depends on root stock

    • Own root, Standard: 20-26’ (6-8m) high x 20’ (6m) wide → tall, not for fresh eating apples which should be picked from the tree, but can be used for juice/cider apples which can be picked up off the ground
    • Semi-Dwarf: 13-16’ (4-5m) high and wide
    • Dwarf: 8-13’ (2.5-4m) high x 12’ (3.5m) wide



    Roots:  Flat, mostly shallow roots

    Growth Rate: Medium


    Apple Tree in Fall

    GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT

    Light: Full Sun
    Shade: Tolerated mild shade
    Moisture: Medium
    pH: 6.1-7.0

    Special Considerations for Growing:

    • Tolerant of most garden conditions
    • Negatively Affected my Juglone (Produced by members of the Walnut Family: Hickory, Pecan, Walnut, Wingnut)



    Propagation: Typically by grafting

    Maintenance:

    • Pruning annually to every 2-3 yrs
    • Needs nitrogen and potassium to sustain cropping



    Disease/Pests:
    Numerous diseases including various types of Apple Scab, Blotch, Rot, Canker, Mildew, Rust, Pit, Scald, Mottle, Blight, and pests including Nematodes, Codling Moth, Aphids, Bird, to name just a few.

    Concerns:

    • Seeds and leaves contain cyanide.
    • May spread easily.



    Red Astrachan Apple

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