Kangaroos love the new growth on the apple tree – that was one of my first lessons about growing apples. On one of our first weekends at Booyong, I excitedly planted some fruit trees. I didn’t prepare the soil as much as I should have and didn’t think to net the tree to protect it from wildlife. When we awoke the next morning, the local grey kangaroos had eaten all the fresh new growth. As you could imagine, I was devastated. A definite gardening learning experience!
Despite being told the tree was ruined I have for the past two years nurtured and cared for this tree. I don’t know what kind it is as I didn’t keep the Daley’s fruit tree label, also as a novice gardener. Time will tell. Let me share with you what I’ve learnt about apples since that day.
Apples do best in cooler climates, and I believe at the time we purchased one that was suited to our temperate climate in Northern NSW. Ours is going okay, and I am constantly cutting off new shoots from the base of the tree to ensure that the main branch is maintained – an attempt to rejuvenate the tree from the damage caused by the kangaroos eating the grafted trunk.
Winter is the ideal time to plant as the trees are dormant and they like a sunny spot with well-drained and fertile soil. When new growth emerges, they require fertiliser (Autumn and Spring). They like consistent watering, especially in the hotter summer months. As they are growing, they can be shaped to allow light to enter the centre. Well established trees don’t require pruning, other than dead wood branches.
According to Gardening Know How, to deter pests and enrich the soil companion plants recommended for the apple include Alliums, Chives, Onions, leeks and /or Garlic Comfrey, Nasturtium, Chamomile, Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Basil, or Yarrow.
I imagine when we have the soil and irrigation sorted out, we will plant more apple trees, as most apples need another variety nearby to help pollinate them and set fruit.
Who doesn’t love a crisp fresh apple straight from the tree? They provide shade and have a beautiful show of blossoms which are so pretty – a definite food forest requirement.