How to Grow Apples in Washington
Washington is the largest apple producer in the United States. With its cold damp climate it is one of the perfect locations to grow many different varieties of apples. With their firm sweet flesh and many uses, apples are the perfect fruit to grow in your own backyard. They ripen all summer and require little care, unlike other fruit trees. And nothing is more delicious than a homemade apple pie made with homegrown apples, or spicy fresh apple cider on a cold winter's night. If you grow your own apples you can have all of that for free.
Go to the Washington Apple Varieties website (see Resources below). It offers an extensive list of the best apple varieties for Washington.
Buy an apple tree. Check the local nurseries or apple orchards. Buy a tree that is at least a year old so it will be old enough to take root. It should not be taller than four feet.
Prepare the soil. Apple trees do well in many kinds of soil, as long as it is well drained. Be sure to fertilize and add some sand to the soil if it is very clay-like.
Plant the apple tree in spring after the snow has melted and the last frost. Avoid planting it in a low-lying area where cold air might settle, as the frost could hurt the tree. Plant it in soil that receives full sun all day, away from the shade of buildings or other trees.
Prune the tree. Nip off all buds and trim all single branches with no splits. This will help the tree grow, get stronger and bear better fruit.
Water the tree. In a damp climate like in Washington, apple trees need less water. Water once to twice a week for 10-15 minutes. Make sure the water gets to the roots.
In the second year, let the apple tree produce fruit. Nip off some of the buds as they appear in spring. Be sure to prune the tree as well. The apples will ripen all summer and be ready for harvest by late summer or early fall.
Harvest the apples. Apples are ready to harvest when their flesh is firm yet sweet. Some varieties are also tart.