Leonie Cornelius’ top tips for growing apples at home

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Growing your own apples doesn’t have to be an impossible feat

Photo © Colin Gillen/framelight.ie

In the November issue, garden queen Leonie Cornelius shared some tips for growing your own orchard. In case you wanted some more detail, she shared some extra information. Read on for the secret behind the apple trees of your dreams!

Some varieties to try

For Dessert:
The early ‘Beauty of Bath’ (aka Paddy of Toney) is an early season apple is one of the first to ripen in August and has a sweet tangy flavour with soft flesh. It has a lovely dappled colour and is a popular one to grow in Ireland.
Three more dessert apples: ‘Cavan Sugarcane’, ‘Golden Royal’ and ‘Irish Molly’

For cooking:
‘Aherne Beauty’ is a lovely mid-season apple whose beautiful crimson fruit can be picked in September. According to ISSA it has been traditionally grown in the northern counties since the 1900s and has been known under its original name (Mere de Ménage) since the 1700s.
Three more cooking apples: ‘An Cailín Ban’, ‘Belvedere House’ and ‘Cavan Strawberry’.

For cider making:
Ballyvaughan seedling (aka White Moss) is a medium-size apple that is a prolific producer. A late-season flowering apple, it can be harvested in August and is useful for juicing, baking and cider making.
Three more cider apples: ‘Bewley’, ‘Gibbon’s Russet’ & ‘McGrigor’s prolific cider’.

Clever tip from ISSA

If you’re unsure of your site drainage you can do a small test. Irish seed savers recommend digging a hole about 50cm deep. After filling up the hole with water, if after 90 minutes your hole has not drained of water, your site is not suitable for growing apples.
For more information on growing apples and in-depth background on planting and varieties visit the ISSA website irishseedsavers.ie

Image by Mary Jane Duford via Unsplash

An idea for the smaller garden

If you don’t have space but still want to get some apple trees then you can get dwarf varieties to suit balconies and patio containers. More creative again is to grow a heritage variety against a wall as an espalier- such as in the OPW’s walled kitchen garden in Phoenix Park. In this way, even small gardens can benefit from an abundant harvest.

Companion plants for apple trees

As mentioned apple trees are pollinated by bees and moths so planting flowers which draw them in are beneficial. Added to this there are some companion plants which are good with the trees. These include wild garlic, calendula, nasturtiums, and chives. Also, crab apples are a wonderful cross-pollination plant so why not add beauty to the garden such as Malus × zumi ‘Golden Hornet’ with its striking yellow fruit or Malus × moerlandsii ‘Profusion’ with the most divine pink flowers? Another variety is Malus Dr Campbell which gives the most incredible dark purple fruit which is great for jams, jellies and even juicing!