The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Dwarf versus semi-dwarf apple tree

Dwarf versus semi-dwarf apples

I thought those of you making a tree-planting decision might get a kick out of this visual of two apple trees of the same variety planted on the same day and starting at the same maturity level.

On the left, we have a dwarf tree (Bud 9 rootstock). The dwarf is shorter than Mark but is absolutely coated with flowers. On the downside, nearly half of the nearby dwarf trees perished during their Apple blossomfirst two years of life --- they are much less hardy while getting established despite my careful weeding and mulching of the high-density row.

On the right, we have a semi-dwarf tree (MM111 rootstock) that has been trained in the same manner as the dwarf. The semidwarf is so tall I've already started it on a size-restriction campaign (cutting off the central leader). In terms of fruiting, this second tree created its first small flower cluster this year, which you may or may not be able to see in the upper left corner of the photo.

In case you're curious about whether all of these beautiful blooms are going to turn into fruit, I'd originally thought that our recent hard freeze did them in. But a few of the later-opening flowers appear unnipped (based on the color at the center of the bloom), so I'm keeping my fingers crossed but trying not to get my hopes up. I'd love to be able to show you a photo of the dwarf trees dripping with fruit in a few more months!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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