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.
Scientific Name: Malus domestica or pumila
Hardly needs description.
Moderate sized tree to small dwarf trees.
Originated in Western Asia (Turkey?). Likely the first tree to be cultivated. First brought to the U.S. in the 17th Century.
China is the main producer of apples. The U.S. is second.
USING THIS PLANT
- Fresh eating, cooking
- Fresh juice
- Fermenting: Cider, Apple Jack
- 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
- 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
Plant Type: Tree to shrub
Forest Garden Use: Canopy to Shrub Layer
Cultivars/Varieties: Over 7,500 cultivars
- Most require cross-pollination
- Note that not all species will cross-pollinate – review a chart before planting. Here is one example.
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
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
GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT
Light: Full Sun
Shade: Tolerated mild shade
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
- Pruning annually to every 2-3 yrs
- Needs nitrogen and potassium to sustain cropping
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.
- Seeds and leaves contain cyanide.
- May spread easily.