I am in NH, and have 4 dwarf/hybrid trees all in year 3. 1 of each: Honey Crisp, Snow Sweet, Gravenstein, and Liberty. Please
see attached photos as I feel like the trees should be growing more by now. I have had deerfence in winter, but still had some nibbles,
also used fertilizing tree stakes in April....Can anyone tell me if I am looking ok, or if I need help? I have not had apples on any tree since a few
in year one.
Thanks so much,
I'm not sure how big these trees were when you planted them. If these are from seed, then they look good. If you planted bare-root and they haven't grown at all, then they are struggling. You may want to try improving the area around them. Another question, which is hard to tell from the pictures. Are they getting enough sun and water?
Welcome to the hell that is apple trees, Ha, Ha! For me, apples have been about having pure faith. The tree below is the Esopus Spitsburg. This is year five, the first year it set fruit. I have had such issues with this tree I considered cutting it down or grafting it. Generally, the health of my Heirloom apple trees has been questionable. I've also planted some crabapples that have set fruit, but they fruit early.
The Esopus has always been lean and anemic, but I kept trying different things to fix it. Year five is the first year the Esopus has looked healthy. All my apple trees look great this year, for the first time in five years.
I did the following to improve my fruit-tree health. Maybe it will help.
1. Wood Chips and lots of them, this will retain water and keep the ground cool
2. Trio plantings and Nitrogen fixers. The Esopus has a black locust next to it. Surrounded by comfrey which gets chopped and dropped regularly. It has a black currant next to it and perennial flowers including mint. (I do not use fertilizer, just wood chips and chop and drop.
(I'm noticing that trees in trios, on islands, surrounded by nitrogen-fixers do exponentially better than a stand-alone.) It isn't scientific, but it's possible that the soil improvement and biodiversity snapped this tree out of its malaise.
3. Last year I whacked this tree into submission. I pruned it so I could throw a goat through the canopy. Thanks to Skillcult's instructions. Opening the canopy is helping the tree dry-out quickly after rain. (These trees don't look like they need heavy pruning, but you may want to watch a Skillcult vid on training a young fruit tree.
I think Scott gave you great advice. I would reiterate how important the wood chips are. I would mulch around the trees as far out as you can go, and a foot or more deep with wood chips. I make rings of comfrey around my apple trees as well, and chop and drop them in place. I've had good success that way.