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

Star Courier (Surrey & Hants) - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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