Planting time for apples
October is the best month for planting bare-rooted apple trees. Choose an open, sunny but sheltered site in almost any soil, but make sure that the ground is neither prone to water logging nor has a high lime content (above pH7). The ideal soil for apples is slightly acidic (pH6.5) and does not dry out in summer.
Fork in well-rotted manure or compost at the rate of a good bucketful to one square metre, then apply a general fertiliser at around 90g per square metre.
- A standard tree is fine where there is plenty of space, as each tree will produce at least 35-45kg of fruit. Standards should be planted 3.5 - 6m (12 - 20ft) apart and will grow 2.6 - 5.8m (8 - 18ft) in height and spread.
- In smaller gardens, it’s probably best to grow trained or dwarf apple trees. An espalier-trained tree has a spread of 3-4.5m (10-15ft) and could be grown against a fence or wall, either in full sun or with a little shade.
- A row of cordon apple trees, set no more than a metre (3ft) apart, will make productive use of a limited space, while dwarf pyramid trees can be planted just 1.5-1.8m (5-6ft) apart.
- Even the tiniest garden will have enough room for a family tree. This is where three or four different varieties are grafted on a single rootstock, where they will cross pollinate to provide a succession of fruit.
- Prepare your planting site now, and you’ll be ready to plant your fruit trees at any frost-free time between early November and late March.