There is nothing as tasty as an apple fresh picked off your very own apple tree. But it takes a lot of work and effort to get even that first apple to grow, not to mention the tree itself. And given Michigan's less than optimal weather patterns and especially harsh winters, growing apple trees can be a demanding and challenging proposition. Thankfully, there are a few steps that can be followed that will greatly enhance your chances of getting all the way from seed to fruit bearing tree.
Collect the seeds from a couple of fresh apples. Rinse of the seeds and towel them off. Put the seeds somewhere warm and dry so that they can dry out for a couple of days.
Put the seeds in a shallow container and place a damp towel on top of them. Put the container into the refrigerator for about a week, watching for signs of sprouting on the seeds.
Fill a cup with potting soil and bury the newly sprouted seedling inside. Make sure to water the seedling on a daily basis so that the soil doesn't dry out. The soil needs to be slightly damp, but not soggy.
Allow the seedling to grow to roughly two inches in height before transplanting it to a tree pot that has been filled with potting soil and fertilizer. Make sure to transplant the entire contents of the seed cup. Allow your seedling to remain in this tree pot environment until it has grown into a sapling - two to three foot in height. Water regularly and be sure to keep it out of the cold Michigan winter's elements.
Determine a good spot for the tree to be planted. This needs to be somewhere that gets full sunlight exposure all year around, that doesn't collect standing water during the fall or winter, and that allows ample room for the tree to grow. Your apple tree will likely attain a height of roughly twenty foot and have a canopy diameter to match.
Clear the chosen area of other vegetation and cultivate the soil for easy planting. Dig a hole that is roughly a foot larger in diameter than the mouth of the pot the sapling currently resides in. This extra space will give the apple tree room to grow once it is transplanted.
Transfer the apple tree sapling from the tree pot to the hole you have prepared for it, making sure not to cut or harm the roots in the process. Due to Michigan's colder climate, it is very important that the apple tree get placed in the ground during the early spring - optimally just after the last hard frost. This will give it the spring, summer and fall to grow before the first Michigan winter.
Pack the hole around the apple tree sapling with planting soil. Water the soil after lightly packing it down in order to remove any unwanted air pockets that may have formed. Spread mulch around the base of the tree in a circle roughly three foot in diameter. The mulch will assist in water retention and will discourage the regrowth of unwanted plants and weeds.