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How to Grow an Apple Tree and Where to Celebrate National Apple Day

Picked Apples in boxes Dreamstime
What's on
October 2022
Reading time 3 Minutes

The 21st of October marks National Apple Day, so we’ve got advice on the best varieties to grow in Yorkshire, together with the best events across the county which celebrate the humble apple

October brings with it the national celebration of all things apple, with more than 600 apple-related events taking place around the country. It’s also the perfect time to start thinking about making your own plans if you fancy growing some yourself. You might think it would be difficult to grow fruit here, but there are many varieties of apple trees which thrive in Yorkshire soil – and once you’re through with the early stages, they take very little maintenance.

So which variety is for you? Emneth Early and Keswick Codlin apples are very popular as they have a short growing season (perfect for our late frosts, because they flower late and mature early), and can thrive in damp climates while still producing a fairly bountiful crop. The Keswick Codlin is good for both cooking and eating as it is (plus, it’s great with cheese), while Emneth Earlys are better off being cooked into a pie or crumble.

Other popular cooking varieties to grow at home include the Grenadier and the Bramley, or if you’re looking for apples to eat straight from the tree, try Beauty of Bath (which has a sharp, aromatic flavour) or James Grieve which is ideal for eating, cooking or juicing.

Once you’ve decided on your variety, order in October ready for bare root planting. According to the Northern Plant Group, it is actually best to wait until early spring (around February or March) to plant your bare root tree to avoid the damp, which can rot the roots.

Plant the tree in reasonably dry soil, or on a mound if you’ve got a particularly wet area, and make sure to match the depth of the nursery’s planting – this will be evident from the tree. If you’re planning on creating your own orchard, make sure you leave enough space between each tree – dwarf rootstocks will only need around 10 feet between each tree.

The early stages of your apple trees do require some maintenance, but if you put in the work, you’ll be well rewarded later. They need a thorough winter pruning and then a decent summer chop while the tree is still young, and make sure you keep the main trunk clear of any offshoots to avoid misshapen or overgrown trees. Within the first couple of years you’ll start seeing a handful of apples appearing. Keep plucking them off at strategic intervals as this will encourage bigger, healthier fruit to grow.

apples hanging on a tree Dreamstime
Apples in a basket between clipboard Beningbrough Hall
Where to Celebrate Apple Day

Where: Helmsley Walled Garden
When: Saturday 22nd October
What: Helmsley Walled Garden’s annual celebration of all things apple is set to be another fantastic family day out, with pruning demonstrations, apple tastings (more than 92 named varieties of apples make up their juices), and all manner of apple-related trails, quizzes and activities to help you learn more about the nation’s favourite fruit. Talk to the experts to find out which trees to plant in your garden, or if you are not sure what to do with your fruit trees join in a pruning demonstration to find out more. After all that you can enjoy apple-themed dishes in the garden’s Vine House Café.

Where: HEART, Headingley
When: Saturday 22nd October
What: Leeds Urban Harvest is a volunteer-run community project which helps stop the excess apples (and pears) in Leeds from going unpicked and wasted. Bring your excess harvest and turn it into juice or cider. With help from equipment from Leeds Urban Harvest, apples get pressed (child labour definitely welcome!) and the juice is drunk or bottled, and there are lots of other activities to keep you entertained, including music and Morris dancers.

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