Simple 'Gardening' Problem

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Aitch
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Simple 'Gardening' Problem

Post by Aitch » Mon May 31, 2021 5:44 pm

OK, since the start of the first lock-down, I have been growing a 'tree' from an apple pip.
It is now about 15" tall, but very spindly and only has leaves on it, no branches, er, branching off it.
To get it to start growing branches, should I pinch out the latest baby leaves at the top or what?

Thanks.
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Re: Simple 'Gardening' Problem

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon May 31, 2021 7:29 pm

Yes, if you pinch off the growing tip at the top it should start investing more in lateral branching.
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Re: Simple 'Gardening' Problem

Post by Aitch » Mon May 31, 2021 8:45 pm

Thanks. I suspected that was the answer, but having spent fifteen(?) months growing it, didn't want to kill it off by doing the wrong thing.

Presumably it will also promote more growth in the roots and trunk and it will get less spindly too.
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Re: Simple 'Gardening' Problem

Post by dyqik » Mon May 31, 2021 10:53 pm

Don't do anything yet!

After that, it depends what shape you want to prune/train it into.

If you want the single central leader/vase shape, don't pinch it yet. Give it two or three years before pruning, and it'll be growing side branches. The first few years will be just growing the central leader.

See https://www.starkbros.com/growing-guide ... es/pruning

We got our apple trees from them as bare root 2-3ft sticks, probably 18 months old, grafted into semi-dwarf root stock. At 6 years, they are now 12 ft trees with several major side limbs, and have flowered once.

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Re: Simple 'Gardening' Problem

Post by Gfamily » Mon May 31, 2021 11:13 pm

Aitch wrote:
Mon May 31, 2021 8:45 pm
Thanks. I suspected that was the answer, but having spent fifteen(?) months growing it, didn't want to kill it off by doing the wrong thing.

Presumably it will also promote more growth in the roots and trunk and it will get less spindly too.
Not necessarily - most apple varieties are grown on the rootstocks of other apple trees - as it's the rootstock that determines the way the 'tree' grows.

Bear in mind that most apple varieties aren't capable of self pollinating, so the seeds produced are going to be a hybrid, so any apples you get (if you get that far) are almost certainly not going to be the same as the variety you ate.

If you were going to be grafting your 'tree' onto a rootstock, you would expect to let it grow on until it's about the thickness of a pencil - so I wouldn't nip out the terminal bud until it's about that size either.
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Re: Simple 'Gardening' Problem

Post by basementer » Tue Jun 01, 2021 12:05 am

I believe I remember.Martin Y has grown one from pip to fruiting tree. Is that right? How many years did it take?
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Re: Simple 'Gardening' Problem

Post by Aitch » Tue Jun 01, 2021 7:37 am

So much for 'simple'!
dyqik wrote:
Mon May 31, 2021 10:53 pm
Don't do anything yet!

After that
, it depends what shape you want to prune/train it into.
Er, that's a bit vague, timewise.
Gfamily wrote:
Mon May 31, 2021 11:13 pm
Not necessarily - most apple varieties are grown on the rootstocks of other apple trees - as it's the rootstock that determines the way the 'tree' grows.

Bear in mind that most apple varieties aren't capable of self pollinating, so the seeds produced are going to be a hybrid, so any apples you get (if you get that far) are almost certainly not going to be the same as the variety you ate.
Yeah, I knew that, but I don't really care about it in this case. ;)
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Re: Simple 'Gardening' Problem

Post by IvanV » Tue Jun 01, 2021 9:40 am

Aitch wrote:
Tue Jun 01, 2021 7:37 am
Gfamily wrote:
Mon May 31, 2021 11:13 pm
... so any apples you get (if you get that far) are almost certainly not going to be the same as the variety you ate.
Yeah, I knew that, but I don't really care about it in this case. ;)
An apple tree grown from a pip is know as a "wildling". Quite a few are found along roadsides where someone once threw an apple core out of the window.

The apples from wildlings are often not very nice to eat. They can be very sharp or bitter, like cider apples, or prone to disease. They are reverting to something like a crab apple. But sometimes you are lucky. If your "don't really care" means "no intention to eat the apples", then fair enough.

There's a lovely novel called "The Wildling" by Maria McCann, the main character being a cider presser, set in the 17th century.

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Re: Simple 'Gardening' Problem

Post by Martin Y » Tue Jun 01, 2021 9:45 am

basementer wrote:
Tue Jun 01, 2021 12:05 am
I believe I remember.Martin Y has grown one from pip to fruiting tree. Is that right? How many years did it take?
Ah, true, but we were a bad example. Maybe a dozen years. Our sprouted pip lingered neglected in a too-small pot for a few years, growing only a couple of feet tall and I eventually planted it in an unfavoured spot out of pity and curiosity. It blossomed halfheartedly after what was probably 8 or 9 years and the following year even produced one or two barely-grown apples. The next year it produced a handful more, one solitary example of which was a beautiful, full-sized and frankly delicious fruit. Thus satisfied by its efforts it's done f.ck all for a couple of years since. Not a hint of blossom this year.

PS That one nice apple has made me wonder about the possibility of getting a cutting grafted onto healthy rootstock and trying to grow a more successful tree. I don't know if that's a practical proposition and have nowhere to plant it if we did.

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Re: Simple 'Gardening' Problem

Post by basementer » Tue Jun 01, 2021 10:13 am

I remember that when growing tomatoes, one shifts the fertiliser mix from one that promotes leafage to one that promotes flower and fruit development. It's just a change in NPK balance. I wonder if your apple tree might like a splash of tomato fertiliser next spring?
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Re: Simple 'Gardening' Problem

Post by IvanV » Tue Jun 01, 2021 10:33 am

Martin Y wrote:
Tue Jun 01, 2021 9:45 am
That one nice apple has made me wonder about the possibility of getting a cutting grafted onto healthy rootstock and trying to grow a more successful tree.
This is a service some nurseries provide, though it's rather more expensive than just buying a tree.

Apple trees being useless at fruiting is a problem even with well-known varieties, if they aren't given the conditions they like and competently managed. I've got 3 small trees and only one is any good. There are some reasons for thinking my back garden is not the cleverest place to grow an apple tree.

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Re: Simple 'Gardening' Problem

Post by dyqik » Tue Jun 01, 2021 10:54 am

Aitch wrote:
Tue Jun 01, 2021 7:37 am
So much for 'simple'!
dyqik wrote:
Mon May 31, 2021 10:53 pm
Don't do anything yet!

After that
, it depends what shape you want to prune/train it into.
Er, that's a bit vague, timewise.
I did clarify a bit after that.

You prune apple trees in mid to late winter while they are dormant, so that's the earliest you should do anything anyway.

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Re: Simple 'Gardening' Problem

Post by dyqik » Tue Jun 01, 2021 10:56 am

basementer wrote:
Tue Jun 01, 2021 10:13 am
I remember that when growing tomatoes, one shifts the fertiliser mix from one that promotes leafage to one that promotes flower and fruit development. It's just a change in NPK balance. I wonder if your apple tree might like a splash of tomato fertiliser next spring?
Fertilizing apple trees is a different thing as they aren't annuals. My link above is to an 11 part guide to growing apple trees, which covers that in part 5 or 6.

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