Farm, Garden and The Land > Permaculture, Land Management and Foraging

Starting an Apple Tree Orchard

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I'm hoping to start a very small Apple Tree Orchard (maybe 6-10 trees). I've just planted two. A Golden Delicious because it's the "rooster of apple trees" and a Liberty tree because it's supposed to be easy maintenance. The Liberty will be pollinated by the Golden if I'm not mistaken.

These are bareroot trees I planted 3 weeks ago. I'm just looking for advice/tips to keep these trees happy. They are full size trees so I'm not looking for apples any time soon. I just want them to grow so that the apples will be great years from now. I'd love to add other types next year too.

I'm zone 6 southern Ohio. I'm just looking for advice that will help me baby these two trees and maybe advice on what to add next year. Thanks

Protect the trunk from rabbits and deer.  Also, any future trees you add, make sure they are not susceptible to the diseases in your area.  Cedar/Apple rust comes to mind. 

Also, take a look at the Penn State extension office.  They have a lot of great articles.  Here's a link to the Fruit Times page

Look up the "Orange Pippin" apple site,
Big Horse Creek

Go to fruit tasting events in the fall and taste test, and either graft varieties you like up, or have them custom made for you. Tasting events are how I ended up with American and Japanese varieties, instead of just my pre-15th century English ones.

It took me around two years to determine what I wanted in my orchards for taste, purpose, and pollination capabilities with each other. Some need just one other variety to cross to, some need three. A triploid' variety which means its own pollen is ineffective at pollinating other varieties. But if you are in an area which has other apple trees around, you are probably ok.

There is another pollination chart at a Seattle fruit tree society I like, but you might find this one useful as well.


I planted 3 bare root apple nearly 4 years ago.  I used Orange Pippin because I liked their rootstock options.  And didn't have a problem with them at all. 

During the first few months/year, make sure they are watered well.  Especially in the dry summer.

Not sure how you garden, but everything I read said don't fertilize the first year.  The goal is to make the root grow and if you fertilize, then the root get what they need for the tree to grow without having the roots grow as well.  You want the root to grow deep and wide.  (That's true for everything, but probably more so for young trees.)

Protect the bark around the tree base from mice/rabbits, especially in winter.  There's a tape you can put on them.  Or you can just stake a circle of chicken wire around each tree.

Cedar has a great pruning thread somewhere in the forum.  You'll need to prune in the winter.

Maybe not a concern if you're growing dwarf trees...  But if you get apples in the first 2-3 years, pinch them off as they are start forming.  It helps root development because instead of using it's nutrients to produce a handful of apples those years, it can use that energy to grow roots to support dozens/hunderds(?) of apples in a few years.

We have a Golden Delicious too.  They are a great all-purpose apple.  I'm not sure about the Liberty, but I see that it's a triploid (like Cedar mentions).  So it sounds like it's not a very good pollinator of other trees.  We paired ours with a Fuji and a Honeycrisp (in hindsight, I wished I would have done a Jonagold instead).

I'll second the suggestion to taste different varieties.  But I'll add to get at least one tart apple (like a Granny Smith) not just all sweet apples.  Having multiple flavors in your apple sauce makes it taste much, much better!  Maybe even stagger maturity times to extend the fresh apple season.  And get some that keep longer (typically less sugar content).

I did not even realize Orange Pippin sold trees. I just use them as a reference.



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