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Consider how much space you have before planting.

Start your own apple orchard

Apple trees are deciduous, and planting is best done in winter, when they are dormant. Here's the basics to get you started planting a tree (or two) in your backyard.

Julian Blackhirst is head gardener at the Diggers Club property, St Erth, located one hour from Melbourne. He suggests the following if you are planning to grow an apple tree.

Apple trees are deciduous, and planting is best done in winter, when they are dormant. Often you will purchase them as bare-rooted trees at this time. A sunny position with shelter from strong winds is ideal. Good drainage and adequate space are also needed for establishing healthy productive trees. If planting in rows, either as espaliers or free-standing trees, a north to south orientation is best so the trees get even sunlight throughout the day.

Soil should be well prepared before planting, but even though apples like a rich garden soil, they are also remarkably tough and forgiving plants. So don’t overdo the preparation with excessive fertilisers or fresh manures as it is more likely you’ll kill the young tree with kindness rather than neglect. At this stage, incorporating homemade or bought organic compost is usually the best way to condition the soil and improve fertility for your tree. 

Prepare a planting hole that’s deeper and wider than the root ball and backfill with the stem buried at the same level it was before (if it’s bare rooted, look for a soil mark). Water in well and keep the soil just moist (not wet), well mulched and free of grass and weeds.

Our Autumn 2023 issue (OG 140) is filled with ideas about growing your own apples, and the best types for cooking. There’s a selection of back issues available here — you can also subscribe and get the most recent issues delivered to your door!

OG 140 cover