Ashridge Nurseries Blog & Recipes

Who will buy my apples?

Guide to fruit tree rootstocks
It is about this time of year that the signs go up in nurseries and garden centres around the country, announcing the arrival of the main apple harvest.

And thousands of people boldly go forth to find..... apple trees (if you recognise the parallels with Star Trek here, it will be a source of enormous relief to know that there is an Enterprise apple)

One of our intentions has been to help educate gardeners people in buying fruit trees wisely.  There are four basic components to successful cropping of almost anything

  • Buying well
  • Planting Well
  • Tending well
  • Good luck

This article is really all about buying fruit trees. UK grown fruit trees are among the best in the world and there is no reason why you should not find high quality stock easily.

Don't ever buy anything weak and weedy. If it is sickly when you get it from a grower who is supposed to be an expert, who has access to the right soil, perfect irrigation and chemicals the average amateur can only dream about, then it will probably stay sickly. Pick it out carefully if you buy at a garden centre and send it straight back if you bought it from an online nursery if you do not like the look of it. In our opinion, any fruit tree sold in a supermarket for a low price is suspect.

Get your rootstocks right.

There are already posts up on this site about rootstocks, but it pays to understand at least the principal. The rootstock is the engine that drives your fruit tree.  A weak rootstock makes it grow slowly and small. A vigorous one make sit grow fast and large.

The picture below will give you the general idea or you can see it full size on our rootstock sales page):

Make sure you have a pollinator nearby

Fruit tree pollination is a subject for several books, but for the average amateur gardener it is not hard to get it right.  Just hang on to the following thoughts. Trees that do not flower at the same time cannot pollinate one another and with very few exceptions apples, pears and cherries FRUIT MUCH BETTER if they are pollinated by another variety.  You can read a lot more about (and choose compatible varieties) in our guide to fruit pollination pages.

Buy Bare rooted fruit Trees

Well, we would say that, wouldn't we (although, our potted fruit trees are more expensive...).  It is also true.  If you can, organise your schedule so you plant in the winter months, and buy bare root fruit trees from an established, reputable grower.  If you can't plant in the winter, then you have no choice but to buy pot grown. Bare root fruit trees should be bigger and healthier than pot grown - the root system in particular.  They have had all the advantages while they were being raised; space to grow, unlimited root runs, steadier moisture levels.

Good luck - buy well, plant well and sit back and watch your garden grow.

2 thoughts on “Who will buy my apples?”

  • Mark L Davies

    I have an orchard with mixed apple trees and plumbs. To many for me to process. What do I do?

    • root

      Thanks for your comment. As far as your surplus apples are concerned, you can juice them and freeze the juice, or if you prefer you can bottle and pasteurise it. There are lots of articles on the web on the subject. If you really have masses of apples, look at a service such as Apple Pressing or search online for an apple pressing co-op.

      If you can't eat them, then plums make fabulous jam (there are at least half a dozen recipes on the BBC Good Food website and we especially like this one.

      Hope this helps

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