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People are used to a small selection of apples available from supermarkets: a couple that are red, a green one and perhaps a slightly yellow one. When faced with our 100 odd varieties, no wonder there is confusion on which ones to get.
The short answer is that you will need to choose for yourself. Tastes vary so much between people - when we do apple tastings, it's amazing how different people respond to the same fruit.
Consider this for a moment. Of the three or four thousand apple varieties in existence, we at home have an orchard of some 400 varieties that we think are excellent and worth growing for preserving into the future. From these, we have distilled some 100-120 varieties for sale that we think they are so special that they deserve to be in other people's gardens as well. Amongst them are a broad range of colours, tastes, sizes, shapes, textures and flavours. From the common to the eclectic, the historic to modern, early to late ripening, vigorous to delicate, and those that are good for cooking, eating, drying, juicing, or cider. Each has it's own merrit.
So to help your decision, we have done our best to describe each and include a photo. Some people prefer to start with only a few trees and then plant more in a couple of years, then get some more once they have got the hang of it. Some want something conservative while others want what no-one else has. Whatever you end up choosing, there is nothing that comes close to the pleasure of growing your own food.
There are a number of ways, so often its a combination that will work.
When an apple is ripe, it will often sound hollow when tapped. You may also be able to indent the skin using the tip of your thumb and the flesh beneath gives in with a "pop". Biting into it will taste sweet and the flesh not too dense. Often, ripe apples will fall off the tree easily. This does vary from variety to variety - trial and error is the best.
For espaliered apples we'd suggest 2m - 2.5m apart, or at a minimum 1.5m. For semi-dwarfing, a bit wider 3.5m spacing. Look at our articles on espaliering here and here, note how the branches grow to meet it's neighbour.
This depends on what you wish to drive between them. If it's a tractor or ute (eg for mowing, harvesting, pruning or mulching) then leave enough room for the vehicle, plus 30-40cm either side so you can get in an out and. Then add to it the width of the beds. If espaliered, the row width may be 3.5m or 4.5m if the trees are free standing to accept a medium tractor. If you plan to only walk between the rows, leave at least 2m.
Most fruit trees do well either way, but grapes tend to be more fickle. We find more important is the vehicle access and drainage if on a slope. Planting across the contour of a slope may pool water, and cause water-logging in high rainfall area. Vehicles drive less well across the slope unless it is terraced.
This depends on which root stocks they are grown on and which variety you are talking about, as they all have different vigor. Apple trees on dwarfing stock can be espaliered to be kept to 2m tall, as can the cherries, quinces and pears. If grown free standing, apples on dwarf tree will grow 2.5-3m. Semi-dwarfing apples will grow 3-4m. Pears and quinces free standing will grow 2.5-3.5m high. Nectarine, plums and apricot are grown on non-dwarfing stock and depending on conditions and pruning, can grow 3-5m, although they can be kept a bit shorter by using a trellis system or a fan espalier. See our article on plums and apricots.
Some of my plants are offered in a Normal or Small tree size. This has no bearing on the Rootstock used - with each plant its clear whether the plant is grown on a dwarfing, semi-dwarfing or stepover rootstock. The final height of the Normal or Small tree will be just the same. "small" trees is used where Ive had insufficient growth and so they are offered at a reduced price.
Our experience with growing fruit trees has always been best when planted in the open ground. They will however survive in a pot, preferably a large one, with an automatic watering system to safe-guard drying out. Don't use this method to grow a tree on for 3-4 years then transplant it out: this could be a bigger job than just starting afresh with a new tree. Read more in our Potted Fruit article.
Fruit trees generally need some winter chill, so the more tropical and humid you are, the less likely that these more temperate varieties will do well. Apples will grow inland as far north as Stanthorpe / Tenterfield and the Granite belt in QLD. Right on the coast, Nowra in NSW is probably the northern limit, but further north 5-50km inland might be that bit cooler to allow fruit trees to grow. See our section on low-chill varieties on this page. The best guide is what is growing around you - if neighbours have had luck growing fruit trees, there's no reason why you wont too.
We have some varieties that tolerate warmer climates. These are either Australian and New Zealand varieties for example Bonza, Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Lady Williams, Pink Lady, Red Gala, Rome Beauty, Sundowner. In terms of pears, Corella is fairly low chill. Most of this list are low chill requirement varieties.
No, we are no longer shipping to WA because of the time and expense of quarantine.
Sorry not at the moment, except for picking up your parcel in winter. We'll email you when it's ready.
The postage rates for our parcels are very reasonable. It would probably cost you more in petrol to pick your trees up from us unless you live in the lower channel area. Otherwise we are happy for you to pick up the parcel in winter, but we are generally flat out packing trees during the limited daylight hours. If you wish to see the trees in fruit, it's better for you to come during Summer and Autumn when the ground isn't muddy and we're not so flat out.