March 1, 2020
In an effort to get a few more fruit trees onto my city lot, I'm going to plant a few apple trees into half-oak barrels. My question: What dwarf(ish) rootstock would be happiest growing in a container? Are there specific rootstocks that are preferable? And are there rootstocks I should definitely avoid planting into a container? Anyone out there with experience in growing apple trees this way?
August 3, 2015
April 8, 2015
You are asking a lot from your future apple tree(s).
Using a container results in approximately 10 degrees F warmer soil temperatures in summer, and approximately 10 degrees F colder soil temperatures in winter. Additionally, they will be much more sensitive to water and could die if you briefly forget to water them or if you over water them.
Living in a pot restricts them from harvesting nutrients from the surrounding soil, since it is contained within a barrier that prevents the roots from spreading.
I assume that you don't want to remove the tree(s) from the pot each year and perform root trimming with soil replacement, in addition to branch trimming, in an effort to avoid the inevitable root binding.
If this is correct, the size of a half barrel restricts you to an extreme size controlling rootstock like a P2.
This type of rootstock will severely limit your choice of apple varieties for grafting.
But yes, it can be done.
As an alternative, you could graft onto a rootstock such as EMLA7 and perform manual size control via regular trimming.
with this option you will need to pick varieties that are not tip bearing to allow you to harvest fruit.
Good luck with your endeavor!
November 17, 2018
Hmm. Gonna put those barrels on the ground? Concrete? A deck?
Gonna use a drip system?
I've done most of those.
So here's the scoop. With a drip system, on a timer, you just need to notice if something has gone wrong.
My Aunt grew Citrus that way for thirty years or so, on a deck, in a barrel on wheels. Once every decade of so, the barrel became too decrepit, and it needed to be replaced.
I've also raised figs that way. Barrels over soil. The fig's roots will grow through the bottom of the barrel. Eventually, the barrel will rot away. The fig will be firmly rooted, right where it is.
The Oak Barrels are fairly expensive, and they are mortal. Nice. But, perhaps a plastic look-a-like barrel might be better, cheaper, and longer lasting. I don't know.
Those 55 gallon, black HDPE-PP barrels can be had for approximately 10-15 bucks each, if you buy 10. They are inobtrusive, and they will outlast Oak barrels by a lot. Just cut 'em in half, and bore a few holes for drainage.
Someday, you might want to put those trees in the ground. In the meantime, an occasional shot of Miracle Grow should keep them healthy enough.
A horse trough is also a possibility. Bigger. Less portable. More expensive. Come in HDPE or PP now. Do you have a forklift?
March 16, 2015
Personally, I would grow them on a semi-dwarf rootstock that will grow to about 12 feet or so. Then I would graft an interstem dwarf rootstock. Then graft your varieties. Remember on a dwarf rootstock with no such interstem, the large triploid apples that most people are obsessed with will very likely break at least a branch and maybe the tree. My Karmijn da Sonnaville broke off below the graft, the very first time the tree produced fruit, a month before it was edible. It reverted to a rootstock. I would stick to medium sized and small apples for the dwarf stock.
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