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Growing Apples Naturally

 
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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I wanted to make this thread to help me keep track of and document growing my apple trees, with hopefully minimal work and maximum harvests!

They won't be irrigated, fertilized, or sprayed with anything, not even organic fertilizers or sprays, just naturally healthy soil, rain and sunshine!

They will be minimally pruned, if pruned at all. With minimal care, they can be truly enjoyed to the fullest! Bring on the yummy harvests!

Hopefully it can be helpful to others also!

If you'd like to stay up to date with the latest videos of what I'm growing and see monthly food forest tours, you can subscribe to my Youtube channel HERE by clicking the red subscribe button! I'd love to have you join me for this journey!
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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This is apple tree is about 3 years old.



Apples can be hard to grow in our area due to the heat and humidity, but this one has done really well here so far!

It hasn't produced any apples yet, but hopefully it will produce its first batch of apples next year!
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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The three apple trees grown from seed that I transplanted into the food forest earlier this year, are doing awesome so far!

Nothing has been done for them and they haven't been watered at all, and they are almost completely disease and pest free so far!

You can see a lot more about them in the thread below and also more info on the complete process on how I grew them from seed.

Growing Apple Trees from Seed Naturally
direct-seeded-apple-tree.jpg
direct seeded apple tree
direct seeded apple tree
direct-seeded-apple-tree.jpg
direct seeded apple tree
direct seeded apple tree
direct-seeded-apple-tree.jpg
direct seeded apple tree
direct seeded apple tree
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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These apple seedling rootstocks were cut back to only about 2 inches tall when they were planted this spring, now they are almost six feet tall!
six-feet-tall-apple-rootstock.jpg
six feet tall apple rootstock
six feet tall apple rootstock
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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Some apple varieties like to grow straight up, and others have a natural spreading shape.

I used to try to force the trees to be in an open form, but I'm just going to let them grow like they desire going forward. It's way too much work trying to tie or weigh the limbs down to have a "perfect" shape. I figure the apples will naturally pull the limbs down when it starts to fruit soon, as I've observed on numerous apple trees.
20200910_160211.jpg
Apple growing almost straight up
Apple growing almost straight up
20200809_161618.jpg
Apple tree with a natural spreading shape
Apple tree with a natural spreading shape
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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These are some photos of my apple trees from last August.

This one had been planted about a year and a half earlier, and was about 3 feet tall when I planted it. It has grown well and is over 8 feet tall now.

It is surrounded by blueberries, a blackberry, and lots of wild plants, and they are all thriving well together!

I'm guessing that I may get to harvest the first apples from this tree in about two years.
20200809_161249.jpg
Apple with blueberries and blackberries
Apple with blueberries and blackberries
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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This apple tree is the same one from the video above in the second post of this thread.

It didn't produce apples this year, but it did produce its first flowers, and I hope to possible get my first taste of the apples this coming year!

Most of the leaves on the left side, which was the older growth, fell off already due to some pest and disease issues earlier this year. However the newer growth on the right side is looking super healthy, and most of it grew after I had an extreme increase in the native plant and beneficial insect diversity a little ways into this growing season. It has been thriving, along with most of my other fruit trees since then.

It has a grape vine growing up it, and the second picture is a serviceberry growing nearby.
20200809_162146.jpg
Apple tree with a young grape vine growing up it
Apple tree with a young grape vine growing up it
20200809_162155.jpg
Saskatoon near the apple tree
Saskatoon near the apple tree
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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I realized after I had already planted this apple variety that it was susceptible to a lot of diseases in our area.

However it is doing much better this year. As I mentioned in the post above, I had a large increase in wild plants and beneficial insects, which have helped in so many ways. Now it just has to worry about its rapidly growing and expanding black locust tree neighbor.
20200809_162310.jpg
Fast growing black locust with an apple tree in front
Fast growing black locust with an apple tree in front
 
Steve Thorn
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Posts: 2444
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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These young apple trees from September were grafted about 6 months before. I've really been impressed with the growth and health of some of the varieties. Some varieties did much better than others, and some varieties just died that weren't very well adapted to our area.

The white string is about 6 feet high (2 meters) and some of the apples have passed it! They are very happy growing with a very wide range of different plants nearby.
20200903_195028.jpg
6 month old apple trees with some over 6 feet (2 meters) tall!
6 month old apple trees with some over 6 feet (2 meters) tall!
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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I planted about 100 apple seeds about two weeks ago, sowing them directly in the ground. It would have been ideal to have done it at least a month earlier, probably more, but too much to do and too little time.

About 10 of them had already started to grow roots, so I tried to plant those gently with the root tip pointing down. These were harder to plant and took more time. It was much easier to plant the ones that hadn't sprouted yet.

I hope the germination rate will be good!
20210306_181656.jpg
Apple seeds ready for planting!
Apple seeds ready for planting!
20210306_180234.jpg
Apple seed with root sprouting
Apple seed with root sprouting
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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This is an apple tree that I grafted one year ago. I'm digging it up to plant in its final home.

I mounded up soil around it to encourage it to send out its own roots, and it did!

The darker area near the bottom right above the main set of roots is the graft. There are quite a few roots coming out from above the graft, which will be from the grafted variety.
20210313_125217.jpg
Grafted apple tree being converted into an own root apple tree
Grafted apple tree being converted into an own root apple tree
 
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Location: Kansas Temperate Zone
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Coon Beans..., err i meant apple seeds, lol. I just set about 5 or 6 in a zip back with wet paper towel inside, placed the bag on top of fridge, seems to be a good propagate apple seeds for me. Thanks for the cool pics.
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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It's been almost three weeks since I planted the apple seeds, and some are starting to sprout!
20210325_073948.jpg
Apple seedling sprouting
Apple seedling sprouting
20210325_074022.jpg
Apple seedling breaking through
Apple seedling breaking through
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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My first apple blossoms are about open and this tree is filled with them!
20210331_184950.jpg
pink apple blossoms about to open
20210331_185000.jpg
pink apple blossoms about to open
20210331_184945.jpg
pink apple blossoms about to open
20210331_185013.jpg
pink apple blossoms about to open
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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The apples were in full bloom a few days ago.
20210408_075443.jpg
Apple flowers
Apple flowers
20210408_075403.jpg
Apple flowers
20210408_075328.jpg
Apple flowers
20210408_075431.jpg
Apple flowers
20210408_075439.jpg
Apple flowers
20210408_075457.jpg
Pollinated and the petals fall off
Pollinated and the petals fall off
20210408_075315.jpg
Young flowering apple tree
Young flowering apple tree
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
874
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I really love the deep red buds on this apple variety.

It supposedly has a very dark red skin, and it looks like the coloring affects the buds as well.
20210405_193310.jpg
Dark red apple flower buds
Dark red apple flower buds
 
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