Apple of my eye

Hurray for heritage fruit trees

I absolutely love apple trees, in spring they are dazzling with their delicate petals, drought tolerant and then of course there are the apples. If you haven’t picked an apple off a tree, you should definitely put it on your bucket list – it’s one of the simple pleasures of life.

A few years ago I planted some heritage apple trees not only because apple trees are beautiful with their trunk colour and shaped leaves but because by purchasing heritage apples I can help keep some of these delicious varieties going. You won’t find them at Coles or Woolies as they are either too difficult to grow on mass, aren’t pretty looking fruit or just don’t turn a profit.

I am also a bit of a foodie and figure if you are looking for a screen or feature tree why not reap the rewards of a tasty bit of fruit too. And these apples taste like nothing like the bland fare on offer commercially.

Where can you go for heritage fruit trees? I know of two places but I’m sure there are plenty of others. Werribee Park Heritage Orchard  and Heritage Fruit Society at Petty’s Orchard.

Both these orchards have open days. On the days I visited they have these books with pages and pages of apples and what they are best for whether cooking or eating.  Next to these are piles of what look like twigs each with labels on them. This is the scion wood that contains the genetics for the particular apple you are interested in.  I picked out a couple of fat twigs and bought the root stock which is a small non-descript apple tree.

Then I approached the grisly men with the sharp knives – only kidding they were quite happy though their knives have to be sharp – for the grafting.

This is where they cut off a section of one small branches and do the same with the scion wood. There are a lot of techniques to this which many others have written heaps about (if you are interested google fruit tree grafting). They then match the two and bind them together with special tape. It’s an operation.  If done well come spring when the sap starts rising the tree has formed a scab accepts the scion wood and off you go.

This is what I have – a Stewarts Seedling on a regular root stock.  Though remember for your garden consider first how the fruit tree will look in your space, especially as it can take at least five years for trees to bear fruit.

So if you love food and want to do something good for our eco diversity why not pop in a heritage apple tree– yum yum!

Heritage apple nearly ready to eat.

Heritage apple nearly ready to eat.