Agriculture

An Apple Tree on Her Own Roots

A Jonagold is a lovely apple that is hard to grow due to is extreme vigour. Due to an extra set of chromosomes, everything about them is big: big apples, big juicy cells within the apples that burst and fill your mouth when you bite into them, big branches, fast, vigorous growth, and a real mess when you want to plant them close. Thirty years ago, I acted on a hunch and coaxed a triploid jonagold to root on its own, calculating that if it had its own roots, and wasn’t reacting to the roots of a two-chromosome (diploid) apple that it was grafted onto, as is the usual practice, it might behave quite differently. Sure enough, the hunch was right. The resulting tree was precocious, fruitful, and more balanced in size than the grafted sisters it was grown among. It was removed long ago, sadly, in the convulsions of a declining fruit industry. Last summer, I wondered if we could do this again, but this time use it to plant a dwarf orchard that had enough vigour to resist the stresses of new insects that attract graft unions, with wood more resistant to drought and frost than current dwarfing rootstocks. Well, have a look. Here’s the first one, a triploid Belle de Boskoop (Boskopf), as happy as can be among her cloned malus x micromalus sisters. Look at her go!

These are exciting days!

4 replies »

  1. This city girl, with a countryside heart, loves these little treasures that show up in my email every day. Thank you Harold.

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  2. There is an older gentleman who lives near Smithers who makes lots of apple juice. Then he throws the pomace (?) on the garden and when the seedlings show up, he saves them and plants them here and there, giving them to people with the comment: “Some may turn out very good.” There are five, I think, on one front yard in Smithers near the Feed Store: all from own roots.

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    • Cool!

      I eat an apple between the house and the car, back the car out of the garage, roll the window down, and throw the pit on the garden. I only do this with the apples I like. I have two babies from this chance practice growing in my greenhouse now. They seem very happy with the care and I am happy too.

      They look like ambrosia babies.

      That would be very fine, as I was there as one of the people who picked the ambrosia when it was a chance seedling itself, and I was, blush, there the night of the apple tasting trial I initiated when it one the taste test and iit was named, and said “That’s a stupid name.” Maybe I can get it right this time!

      >

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