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Question: 398-3410
Thanks to your help, I now have Granny Smith Apples grown from seed that are now about 3-4 ft. high. Can I fertilize and how? Diane, Marlboro, MA

Mort's Answer:
Dig 5 or 6 holes in a circle about 18 inches from the stem with a crowbar or tire iron down 6-8 inches deep.Fill these holes with 5-10-10 fertilizer. It's a good idea to grow clover under the apples trees to provide nitrogen and pollen for the bees. You need not fertilize for another 5 years after this application. I would also suggest that you go to the library and get a book on pruning apple trees. In this coming year, you will need to build a scaffolding of four or five main branches, which will support your flower bearing branches. This first year, you can have two or three main branches and subsequently develop the restof the scaffolding. Eventually, you will be able to cut the ends to get more fruit. You will also need to spray regularly with a dormant oil spray and some Bordeaux Mix prior to bud swell and after petal drop. It was great to hear from you on the radio.

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Question: 579-2911
Our apples are about the size of golf balls. Last year we lost them to insects. What organic sprays can we use to keep them safe? Kurt, Marquette, MI

Mort's Answer:
You can spray canola oil to keep away fly specks now. You need a complete spray program to keep the apples from falling to the ground and feeding the worms. Neem is a natural oil that can be applied before bud swell in the spring and as a dormant spray in the fall. You could also put vaseline on the trunk near the root to prohibit crawling insects from nesting in the stems. Lime wash above the vaseline line would be a second line of defense against the marauders. Do not use the canola oil to excess because it could close the pores of the leaves, even when they are mature. Bordaux Mix is considered by many to be natural. This lime sulphur compound can also be applied before bud swell and now after fruit has set. Never spray any chemical while the flowers are on the tree.

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Question: 1322-4415
Why are my apples not as round and smooth as the ones in the stores? I have dimples in them. They were abundant this year and tasty. I never do spray because of my well nearby. Jim Salem, CT

Mort's Answer:
I would not change a thing. Just clean up the fallen apples and leaves before they rot. You have fly speck. The flies do not eat that much and leave a few spots for their eggs. This causes irregular growth. It is not worth the risk to spray near your well. You are doing well enough.

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