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columnar apples?

 
Rob Sigg
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Location: PA-Zone 6
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Hey gang, just wondering if anyone has had any real experience with columnar apples. What varaties did you grow, how did they taste and how was their resistance to pests/disease etc.? I can't seem to find much on these apples and I am considering getting them for my work community garden. Thanks!
 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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Many things that are sold as columnar apples are regular apples pruned to be a stick.
 
Rob Sigg
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Location: PA-Zone 6
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The ones I am referring to are varaties that fruit on spurs; only a few places sell the true ones like Raintree and Stark.
 
                          
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Yes there are at least 3 commonly available columnar apples, not pruned that way.

I have a "scarlet sentinel" that I have now dug up and transplanted probably 5 times (fruit trees hate this) but after a season I realize it's in the wrong spot. I need to move it again, to it's final spot this spring...
It survived a couple years with roots within water table, had bark chewed all the way around by voles and somehow healed, and even produces a few apples each year.
Taste is OK, would be better if the tree was happier.

Mine is quite sturdy but suggest against a structure or with a big stake.
They do grow surprisingly tall quickly. I believe you'd prune any long laterals, however mine has never sent any out.

It is more of an interest/oddity but the food production in such a tiny area could be incredibly.
 
Rob Sigg
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Location: PA-Zone 6
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Great feedback. Im curious if you can equate the taste of your apples with more familiar kinds of apples? Because this is going into a community garden with a target audience that is new to this, I wanted to encourage people to grow their own food, yet enjoy it. My fear is that these apples will not appeal to them because the flavor is so different. Again, since I have never seen one or eaten one, Im rather ignorant myself. Thanks!
 
                          
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I would not be the best person to judge it as I've only eaten a few. But there is nothing particularly wrong with them, I think most would be happy with the fruit.


 
                                    
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I have three of the Stark varieties -- red spire, crimson spire, and green spire.  I have 2 of the crimson spire trees.  I planted the original red and crimson roughly 10 - 12 years ago, and then planted the other two about 4 years ago.

I like them, and could definitely see them as being very useful in very small gardens, such as in urban situations.

The older trees have now matured out at roughly 10 feet tall, with probably a 5 foot spread.  I planted them on either side of a porch in a southern exposure, and they work fairly well there.

The apples on all of them are good eating quality, nothing outstanding but certainly not any worse than old familiar mainstays like delicious or macintosh. 

The fruit of the crimson spire is probably my favorite of the three.  I did not thin the fruit last year, and they ranged in size from 2 1/2 inches to some as large as 6 or 7 inches in diameter -- the largest were equally as big as your typical Northern spy.  Flesh is very white, crisp, sweet-tart, and probably most similar to Macintosh or perhaps Empire in flavor.

The green spire is a squat, flat apple, also quite large, up to say 5 inches in diameter, and the flavor reminds me quite a bit of Granny Smith when first picked, and then mellows to become somewhat more like ginger gold or some of the other green/yellow skinned apples.  It is rather tart.

The red spire is very similar to a good, old fashioned Jonathan in all respects, especially in flavor.

The trees can be quite productive.  Last year, we had a pretty hard freeze Mother's Day weekend, which did zap a fair number of the blooms.  I did get a bushel and half off the mature crimson spire, as it is the most protected due to the configuration of the building it is near.  The others gave me about a peck to half a bushel each.

My only real complaint with any of these is that none of them is a keeping apple -- they all mature in late August (red spire), early Sept (green spire) or mid Sept (crimson spire).  For me, none of them seem to keep more than a couple of weeks without refrigeration, and perhaps up to 6 weeks in the fridge.  They seem to have more in common with "summer" apples in this respect. 

 
Rob Sigg
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Location: PA-Zone 6
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Perfect! That is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks very much for your input.

You said they grow to a 5 foot diameter, is that because you just didnt trim laterals or do the spurs project that far out? Sorry I don't know much about these trees.
 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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Those are branches, spurs are less than 4" long.
 
Rob Sigg
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So I assume if I keep the "branches" pruned then my diameter should be no larger than 1 ft right? Just trying to plan the placement. The websites say they are larger than that, but Im guessing that is without pruning.
 
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