Apple trees are not just for growing in orchards, but are also popular with homeowners and backyard gardeners. They are not difficult to grow, but problems can sometimes occur when the tree is not receiving the proper nutrients, especially nitrogen. One way to ensure the proper growth and good fruit production of your apple tree is to make sure the soil is properly fertilized with nitrogen. A healthy tree with good growing conditions does not need other fertilizers, although it will still benefit from a variety of applications.
Nitrogen is the key nutrient that apple trees need to grow adequately and produce fruit. No other nutrient is needed unless your soil's pH is below 7.8. You can find out your soil's pH by testing your soil with a soil test kit. Use a commercial nitrogen-based fertilizer beneath your apple tree, such as ammonium sulfate. Apply the fertilizer one month after planting the apple tree. Start 6 inches from the base of the tree and spread the fertilizer 2 feet around the tree. Apply the fertilizer again in May or June.
A good way to provide nitrogen and other nutrients to your apple trees is to plant cover crops beneath the tree. Some good cover crop plants include beans, herbs, dandelions, and a variety of perennial grasses. To ensure a good balance of nutrients, plant some root plants, such as carrots or beets, along with the other cover crops. Planting cover crops will add nutrients to the apple tree's soil and produce crops that can be harvested and consumed.
Mulching beneath the apple tree is a good way to retain moisture and improve the soil with more nitrogen. Mulch, such as grass clippings, newspaper, cardboard, hay, and wood chips, should be dug into the soil around the tree. Nitrogen and other nutrients will be added to the soil as the mulch naturally decomposes. Mulching is an excellent way for organic gardeners to add nutrients to the soil without using commercial-grade fertilizer.