These apples also are very early.
They are along the East shore of the North part of our pond..and I took my little trusty battery operated ryobi chainsaw and spent a couple of days cutting down alder trees that were growing in a deep dense thicket around this apple tree. Got them all cut out and stacked in a pile for alder chips when I can get the chipper back there some day soon (heard they are great for growing fungi on).
Now I have a path on one side and under the little apple tree and there is much more light to it and the area around it ..and lots of piles of alder brush.
I also pruned up some of the lower branches so you don't hit your head on them walking along the path..still need to prune up that apple tree in the woods and clear some brush out around that one, fall is a good time to do that clearing..so hopefully i'll get to that this next week.
I'll update you on the apple crop next year if all the blossoms don't freeze again.
As for growing apples true from seed, that might require several generations of inbreeding from separate lines and selection for desired qualities. I remember from my studies that to get lab rats and mice (and this sounds horrible, forgive me!) you needed to mate them with each other for about 8+ or so generations to make their genetics uniform enough to form a "breed" or "line." However, one must be careful of the dangers of inbreeding.
In autumn 2009 I started about 100 apple pips. Here in N.Ireland we are not certain enough of getting a sufficient frost to naturally stratify apple pips, so these were done in the fridge (3-4 months) and then potted up in spring, repotted a couple of times and they are due to be planted out once the site is ready and once I have time at Easter.
These are photos of the development of the seedlings through last year. I have about 80 to plant! However at the end of last year I marked the most healthy ones....
They are pips from the ancient apple forests.....
I hope some of them make really good apples.
I've planted up a few dwarf root stock as well. I plan graft a bud of he healthiest of the seedling trees onto this so that I can short cut the "wait and see" time. I understand that with M27 I should only have to wait 2-3 years to sample first fruit rather than 10 or so on own roots. Of course I plan to grow on the the seedling that the bud comes from as well.
Just need to work out a robust weather prooof labelling system!
When I worked in an apple and fruit breading progam at the University of Arkansas, most of the fruit off of seedlings from crosses made 5-10 years before fruiting were pretty poor quality. But, once in awhile there was a good one and we selected it for some characteristic that might be useful, such as early to bear fruit, pest resistance, fruit quality, fruiting habit. On the other hand, when I was in graduate school at Rutgers University, I made 4 apricot crosses (crossing a great named variety with an OK tasting variety from Romania that blooms 2 weeks later and hence can beat late spring frosts). I got 4 seeds and 4 trees which I dug up and moved twice and replanted in Montana a third time 17 years ago. all 4 crosses produced excellent quality fruit that fruit regularly in Montana. But 2 trees are large and vigorous and 2 trees are small and bushy. It seems to depend on the variation, genetic plasticity, in the species you're working with. There is lots of variation in apple!
As far as taproots go, seedlings produce better taproots, but there are many examples of taproot trees doing well when tranplanted from deep containers such as "ray leach cells" or tublings. When I worked in mineland restoration, we had good to great success with oaks and conifers using 1" wide and 10" long ray leach tubes. Many of the trees planted 20 years ago are now doing well in harsh sites with no care at all after planting. Seeds are fun to work with, but the risk of getting a terrible tasting fruit is pretty high. If you have lots of room for lots of seedling, go for it.
I think it's Magic Seeds.
You sound like you have had some fascinating work! Admittedly, I am going into this project with my eyes wide open as I am very aware of the genetic variability of the apple Malus pumila. (It seems it is also variously called M. pumila, M. seversii and M. domestica, depending on who you read!) I also understand that there has been some DNA testing on the domestic apple and it seems that crab apples have had less of a genetic influence than first thought. I find all this fascinating. Latest read: The Story of the Apple by Barrie E. Juniper and David J. Mabberley
My young trees are from seed from undomesticated apple stock and so really this is also about preserving genetic diversity. So I will be creating a small apple wood here and if the fruit is useless, then the wood should be good! I will of course go for a bit of fun and make some test grafts of the healthiest trees to see what their fruit is like, and may even try a few intentional crosses.
However I am well aware that the scale of my enterprise is unlikely to offer anything of significance except perhaps my entertainment and some flowers for the bees! I do also have a dozen or so local named varieties growing here, so these seedlings will not be my only apples!
Helen, if you are still around, what would your advice be about planting these on now. I have two thoughts. One is to put them in a nursery bed close to the house for another year. The other is to break new ground in the corner of a field and plant them up at their final spacings. (About 15' I think). The risk with the field is that they get swamped by the grass, if I can't keep up with mulches etc. The nursery bed of course means moving them again next year!
Any advice welcome. (And yes I know I'm a bit mad! )
If I had avoided projects because they were mad I would not have done 50% of the things on my farm the past 20 years - some of which became very profitable and all of which were fun!
I would plant out your wonderful apples in their final location now, but here's a thought. You can plant them much closer together, When we did apple seedling trials they were planted 3-5' apart. That gave us the ability to cut out the ones that showed less desirable traits (disease, weak growth, etc..) and make room for the others. Also the closer they are planted, the easier they are to keep mulched for weed management. I used weed mat on a 600' native plant hedgerow 10 years ago and had great sucess managing the aggressive pasture grasses that came in, but it did provide a place for voles to overwinter and they esp. liked the wild plums and elderberry. I would use a thick paper mulch were I to do it again, like Ecocover, which at my place did not break down the first season even with irrigation. Ecocover is hard to get a hold of, but maybe ther are other thick paper mulches that last a season available now?
Good luck with your project! I'm glad you are keeping a photographic record. I think that is key so we all get to learn from each others projects.
I like the idea of the closer spacings, as you say it'll give me a chance to see what I've got. There are about 100 seedlings in total. (20 or so from Braeburn and Pink Lady apples - done at the same time as the others for comparison's sake... they just happened to be the apples I was eating that day.)
We've been here about 20 years too, and I've a few projects that went well... and others best fogotten.... . I find it's great to have both a little more time and a little more cash now to ease projects along. It's surprising how much it costs to pot up 100 seedlings into 5 litre pots all at once.
So here goes another project ... keeps me young!
It also means that if I do any later intentional crosses that I'll have space to plant them up too.
I'm quite keen to look for the healthiest plants and then cross them with some of my tastiest local Irish varieties and see what happens...... Boy I'd better live to a ripe old age to have any hope of sampling any of my creations.
Before finding this forum, I had been planing to grow apples from seed to provide rootstock for expansion. Rethinking plans now. If the consensus is correct at 20% spitters, I have no worries about just letting them go. As a typical homestead, I will have chickens and hogs...they won't turn their noses (beaks) up at free treats.
All good apples were once good seed. I think it's worth it to take a little gamble.
Taking apple as an example, the bulk of apple roots are found growing in the top 18" of soil. They do grow deeper in light soil than than they do in heavy soil. Seedling rootstocks (rootstocks grown from seed) retain their taproots which normally grow deeper than feeder roots. (However, the main functions of taproots in apple and most fruit trees are support and sugar storage not the gathering of water. I also suspect that taproots may allow a tree to live longer and endure wetter soil.) Antonovka has one of the most pronounced taproots of all apple rootstocks. By contrast, MM 111 apple rootstock has no central taproot but extensive feeder roots capable of growing in shallow soil better than others due to its tolerance of dry soil. It is for this reason that it does better than many rootstocks on soil with a high water table as well as doing well in very dry soil. Bud 9 apple rootstock has similar tolerances but is not as drought tolerant as 111, however more drought tolerant than most dwarfs. The following have deep roots: Pecan, black and English walnut, oaks, grapes. The following have shallow roots: pea shrubs, pome and stone fruits, kiwis, filbert/hazelnuts, bush cherries, roses, blueberries, lingonberries.
IMO planting apple seeds is very worthwhile. where else will new varieties come from?
OWners of cloned trees often believe pesticides are essential. Clones are old trees kept alive artificially for years longer than their natural lifespan. They catch diseases from other clones
Pippins used to be grown from pips, hence the name
They have finally all got put in the ground. The strongest looking ones went closer to the house in a double row to make a sort of apple arch walk way. The remainder where then planted in a closer-spaced double row as a boundary to an new area of hard-standing close to a reclaimed barn we are about to reassemble!
The dwarf root stock plants look strong and this week end I plan to bud graft onto them. (I know the book says August, but things were hectic then.... )
I guess it'll be a few years before I can report on the taste of any of the fruit!
my self seeded apples are providing me with some lovely apples for canning, drying, freezing and eating fresh this month and I just finished canning free plums from a neighbor and apples and have apples drying and a pie on the counter..the late apples are just about ready too..loaded this year...deer have gotten a lot of drops as have our neighbors for cider
I just recently spent time in New Zealand where apple trees do very well. I was surprised at the amount of "wild" seedling trees growing along the roadside. All of them were unpruned and un-irrigated. Needless to say, we sampled many fruit and found the majority of them to be quite pleasant. Several were comparable to commercial varieties, some in my opinion were better!
I think if you plant apple seeds from commercial varieties you will get good fruit, especially if you select seeds from trees that have not been cross-pollinated by crab-apples. For example, seeds from an orchard of mixed varieties of commercial hybrids may have a better chance of producing good fruit. You could even rig the genetic slot machine and make your own crosses by hand pollinating, then plant those. You may be able to increase the percentage of good fruit to over 50%. I am sure this has been done with apples.
I have planted many fruit trees from seed in an effort to experiment with true-to-type fruit tree varieties that produce good quality fruit without grafting (http://www.sborganics.com/Rare_Food_Nursery.html). I have found that peach, apricot, macadamia, cherimoya, and loquats all produce good fruit from seed, with some variability of course. I am waiting on sapote, rose apple, surinam cherry, and carobs to fruit for results on those.
RE tap roots, in my experience trees that are more adept to drought have greater tap roots. Often the tap roots may be several, and not always heading straight down. I guess they are really lateral roots but perform like tap roots.
if you start your seeds in deep enough tubes that air prune (http://www.superoots.com/air_intro.htm) and transplant your seedlings after they go dormant (maybe year 2?), you will not have to worry about the tap root. It will air-prune itself and branch but continue down as long as the soils and conditions allow it (this last part the key). If they grow super easy in your climate then planting seed straight in the field would be optimal of course.
sounds like a great project and look forward to updates!
If you irrigate a tree that has a taproot, you will discourage the tree from keeping the taproot. There is another ingredient. Some trees and plants don't have tap roots at all. Whether they have taproots or not, they all have primary roots which grow very thick, as thick as the trunk of the tree actually. And they generally grow in a downward fashion if you don't irrigate. What they do is follow these routes previously constructed by the minerals in the soil as the water migrates downward. The tree roots naturally seek those channels. If you dig up all the dirt in your garden, you will lose these channels and they will need to reform which could take decades in some conditions. If the plant was grown first in a container, the primary roots (tap or non-tap) reach the end of the container and can grow no further, from that moment on they will only send out secondary roots which are the roots that do most of the feeding. Once the primary roots reach the dead-end in the container they no longer grow further. That is the next problem associated with container/transplanted trees. Because their primary roots have been prevented from growing further, they must then be irrigated the rest of their lives because they have no tap or primary roots that will go deep to find the water.
I came here trying to gain a better understanding on how to grow apples that I want to eat from seed. What I've been able to gather on that is this is an investment in time to wait for the tree to grow until it produces fruit to see if I want to eat the fruit or let the deer have it, or press cider.
For the moment I am considering only growing apples from seed, using my Groasis Waterboxxes to get them started correctly so they grow tap roots way deep, and then letting nature provide whatever mutations it does. If I get some good apples fine. If not, there's nothing preventing me from chopping those trees down. However, waiting a decade or two to find out doesn't sound like fun if there's no keepers. So I'm going to continue my search for whatever methods could be relied on to make it less of a happenstance game.
Thanks to everyone who contributed on this thread. It's been a good read!
If you dry farm your orchard from seed (possibly using the Groasis Waterboxxes to get your seedlings started nicely) your trees will continue to have taproots or primary roots (Grapes lack tap roots, but they DO have primary roots!) and they will be drought resistant and you will never have to irrigate.
If the seed grown tree is healthy and drought resistant, you can always graft other known varieties on to it. If you are worried about keeping the size of the tree more controlled, they respond well to heavy pruning, too.
Hard for me to see any downside to a seed grown tree.
Dave Bennett wrote:
... I have never seen apples like those since that tree was cut down but they were gigantic and very oddly shaped with bright yellow skin and unusually sweet and extremely juicy.
bet that fruit would have sold well.
stories like yours remind me of the story told in the book Tree Crops about the black walnut tree with the easy to crack shell.
bet that fruit would have sold well.
stories like yours remind me of the story told in the book Tree Crops about the black walnut tree with the easy to crack shell.
I ate lots of them but most were added to the mix for making cider. It added extra sweetness to the blend. All of our cider was made from "wild apples." Some had been commercial orchards that had been abandoned for more than 50 years which leads me to believe that much of what was growing was from seed. Most of the trees produced medium size tart apples that were mostly light green with a small patches of red but definitely not suitable as eating apples. Those sweet one were perfect to balance out the flavor.
Paul talks about growing apples from seed.
Even the so-called "Dolgo seedlings" are not really all that "true." at all - similar might be a better word. I purchased 10 Dolgo seedlings from Lawyer nursery (a very good wholesale supplier, BTW) just to satisfy my own curiosity about how "similar" they were. Several years later, I have trees which are not all that much like my "true" i.e. grafted Dolgo. They are similar, for sure, but even this sample of 10 trees are all sufficiently different that I can easily see differences in them and tell each one apart from the others. If you want exactly the same apple as you picked or ate from xyz tree, then you need to graft that tree. If you want a "close enough for government work" apple AND IF that particular apple is self-fertile and also grown in proximity to other similar seedlings, then, you might get something fairly close in terms of the seedling. One thing which is very important to remember is that the bees which pollinate these apples cannot read books. They don't know the "rules" of the game and they are not interested in what you want. If they are carrying pollen from a tree 1/2 a mile away on their little leg hairs and, then, they just so happen to land on one of these mass-planed plots, the offspring of that particular match is going to be very different from what was expected. Unless the bees promise to cooperate, one will never reliably get "breeds true" apples from seed. One the other hand, variety is the spice of life and surprises are nice, too!
cloning is taking a piece of a plant and growing it into its own seperate plant
grafting is taking a piece of one plant and attaching it to another plant of the same family so as to grow the plant with the other plants roots, such as grafting an apple tree to a rootstock or grafting a tomato plant to a potato plants rootstock
has anyone ever tried CLONING into place?
im not certain but i have heard that a lot of commercial apple types have undesirable root systems for one reason or another so some varieties may grow better than others if cloned
personally i think it'd be worth a try and if i decide to plant anymore apple trees i might give it a go... just dont have any planned at the moment, better to get some diversity going lol
paul wheaton wrote:
My understanding is that getting a marketable/decent apple is a 1 in 20,000 chance. In other words, people start lots of apples from seeds, but what they end up with is usually pretty lame.
So if I plant a bunch of cameo apple trees, there is a good chance that whatever I plant is gonna be crap.
Will it turn out like crab apples?
Are there some varieties that are less likely to turn out to be crap?
So I basically just bought two apples of four different non-store-shelf varieties for nothing? I bought two Mutsu, two Arkansas Black, two Rome, and two Winesap. None of the seeds from these apples, even when stratified in the fridge and taken care of so that they live to become trees.... None of them will produce the results I expected so fondly?
Way to crush my dreams guys...
Does anyone know where one might get heritage apple seeds? A good heritage tree source would be nice too.
I saw that at http://applesearch.org/ the apples are around NC, VA, and thereabouts. I'm in MN and am not sure how any of those would do here. I'm just starting to landscape, sepp holzer style, an old Finnish farm and want to get off on the right foot.
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