GROW APPLES WITH EASE
As fruit- lovers celebrate harvest with Apple Days this month, HANNAH STEPHENSON speaks to Gardeners’ World presenter Monty Don who offers tips on how to grow them M
onty Don loves apples. He has around 60 different types at his garden in Longmeadow, Herefordshire, growing g in various forms – some are big g trees, others stepovers, or smaller trees.
They are among the most popular fruits in this country and yet people have a fear about growing apples, says Monty in his latest book, Down To Earth.
“They somehow feel it has as to be a big tree, but it doesn’t. n’t. You can grow stepovers or espaliers, you can grow fans or cordons. You can train the fruit to fit your space,” he explains.
“People also get very worried about what are actually quite trivial afflictions. It could be a bit of mould on a leaf or a bit of bitter pit on the apple, but by and large apple trees are robust. They don’t need much looking after.”
Some people are also confused by rootstocks, he observes. “It’s moderately complex because all apples are grown on a different rootstock, so the roots of one tree are
joinedjoin at the graft to the trunk and branches of another tree. The root dictates the size and vigour and shape of the tree, and the bit above the root dictates the fruit.
“So you could have my favourite eating apple, Jupiter, as a dwarf, a cordon or a great big tree, but you’d need a different rootstock for each of them.
“All you need to know is, I want it to be this big, my garden is this size, what rootstock do you have? And a good garden centre should be able to tell you.”
Here are Monty’s tips for applegrowing beginners... or one from either side, so if you have a group three apple, you should either have another from group three or one from group two or one from group four.
The earliest apples start blossoming at the beginning of April and the latest blossom at the end of May, but the