When we lived in Canberra I had an apple tree planted in the backyard. It was a dwarf, dual-graft of Pink Lady and Red Fuji. By the time we left, it also had Granny Smith, Cox’s Orange Pippin, and something else, grafted on. The year we left was also the first year it was covered in fruit. The previous year we had two Pink Lady’s off it, and they were amazing. Full of flavour, sweet, juicy, perfectly ripe. When we left, it had half developed apples of all five varieties, and I never got to taste them.
Almost five years later, I’ve finally bought three apple trees to grow in pots. Jonathan (Super Dwarf), Red Delicious (Super Dwarf), and Cox’s Orange Pippin (Dwarf). I’m hoping to get at least one Cox’s Orange Pippin apple this year, as they’re just coming into budburst, however the other two trees are not as developed so they won’t fruit this season – but they’ll act as pollinators for the Pippin. *note: the Red Delicious is covered in flowers, neither of the others have any – 15 Oct.
But why stop there? Why buy grafted trees when I there are so many other varieties in the shops, and you can play lucky dip with the seeds? Also, ‘EVERYONE‘ says that you can’t grow apples from seeds, they don’t run true to type, and seed-grown apples taste awful. But what if everyone is wrong? All our eating varieties came from somewhere, the heirloom varieties came by accident, it’s only the modern varieties that are deliberately bred. And I don’t need an apple to fulfill commercial requirements regarding ripening all at once, longevity, shelf life, etc. Plus I just like growing from seed, and seeing a plant develop from something tiny.
I decided to do it, to grow apples from seed, just because I can.
My plans for these two seedlings are to grow them for a year, and cut them as scion wood next winter when they go dormant. I’ll then graft them onto one of my other apple trees – I’ll probably buy a sacrificial dwarf apple that has lots of side branches – and see how it goes. Grafting them will give me fruit in around three years from seed, compared to up to ten years if I leave them in the ground/pot. Plus wild trees grow BIG and it needs to be a manageable size.
I’m well aware that they may not be edible, and certainly won’t be true to type. That’s ok, I’m doing this for fun, not as a commercial venture. I’m sure I’ll be disappointed if they’re not edible, after a few years waiting, but them’s the breaks and I’m going into it knowing that it’s a possibility.
So I was eating an apple from the local IGA, and it was delicious. And as is my habit, I saved the seeds (I regularly throw out chilli and capsicum seeds that I’ve saved when cooking). Then saw one was sprouting, so stuck it in a pot. It grew, as they do, so I had to decide what to do with it. That was easy. I planted more apple seeds! Two of them grew well, and I decided that was probably enough – I can always grow more later.
Here they are with the cotyledons and first leaves just poking through. It took them about two weeks to get to this point.
2nd October 2018
A month later, they both have several leaves. I’ve planted one of them in the ground, and the other will go into a large pot in a few weeks. When planting the first into the ground I could see there weren’t a lot of roots there, it would have been better to have been left in the pot for longer. So I’ll leave the other to develop more before I move it.
The still potted seedling:
They’re only about as big as my hand, but since my basil that I planted at the same time is still at the two leaf stage I find this growth pretty amazing considering it’s only about six weeks from seed.
And the little one in the ground. The soil (what passes as soil in WA) was very sandy and dry, so I added Soil Solver, coconut coir, and some blood and bone. Watered well to saturate it, then planted the seedling in and patted the surrounding soil into a moat to direct water down. I also sprinkled pet-friendly snail pellets around it after the photo, so it doesn’t get eaten before it has a chance to grow.
7th October 2018
I noticed today that the seedling in a small pot had roots coming out the bottom of the pot. It’s now in a large pot, which is where it will stay until I cut it up for scion wood. This one is more developed than the other seedling, I suspect it’s up to a week older as I started the second seed a while after the first that was sprouting inside the apple.
This one will also get more sun than the seedling planted in garden, which I hadn’t thought about when I planted it. It should still be fine there, as it gets taller it will get more sun. This one in a pot gets full afternoon sun, although I may have to move it during the middle of summer.
15th October 2018
Small change of plans – I’ve been watching the seedling I planted in the ground, and have noticed that it is in shade all day, absolutely no sun at all. Once it grows to about two foot tall it will reach the sunlight, until then it’s in full shade. Not good for a sun-loving tree. We also have a problem with the reticulation near there, so it’s getting limited water. Easy fix, I dug it out (wasn’t hard, it hadn’t really sent any roots out in the last two weeks), moved it’s brother over in the pot and planted it in the pot as well. They’re only going to be in there for a year, so they won’t outgrow it.
The more I look at these two plants, the more I think they’re from different parents. The original apples I collected the seed from was Black Bravo, but I had about four apples of that variety over the week. When I look at these seedlings, the leaves are different sizes, different colours, even slightly different shapes. Meaning they have been fertilised by different parents, resulting in two very different plants.
Being the impatient sort, I really want to see what comes of these!