HELEN LANG: Playing Mother Nature with apple trees

How can this be? I had a fascinating garden column almost finished and bingo, it disappeared

How can this be? I had a fascinating garden column almost finished and bingo, it disappeared. Probably, because it wasn’t really all that fascinating!

Now I do have something interesting to share with you. One of my valued readers, Ingrid, has sent me a letter asking about apple seeds becoming apple trees and how to go about assisting this to happen.

She will not get an expert’s advice on this, just an ordinary gardener’s idea (mine!)

First you must choose a variety, and it should NOT be a hybrid (Gala being a hybrid). Yellow Transparent would possibly be a safer choice, and its fruit does make wonderful apple pie!

To get a viable seed, you’ll need to choose a fully ripe apple, probably one that has fallen on the ground, but not a diseased one.

The seeds should be brown, not white. Pick several of the largest and strongest looking seeds and bring them inside to dry in a warm (but not hot) place.

Put the dry seeds in an envelope in the refrigerator for about a month (the seeds will hopefully believe they have endured a whole winter.)

At this point, plant several of these seeds in some decent soil, in a pot with drainage holes in the bottom. Keep the soil moist, but not soaking wet until the seeds sprout. This may take months, but, pretending to be Mother Nature takes patience!

When life appears, save the strongest seedlings, moving each into a separate pot.

It would probably be a good idea to save several sprouts, in case of some disaster (a tipped pot and a dried-out seedling, for example).

When your seedlings have at least four dark green leaves transplant them into larger pots, and keep doing this until you have a piece of ground in which to plant your infant trees (or a large pot and a lot of soil.)

Possibly in its second year it will bloom, and at that time will need a pollinator. Ask someone (who has the appropriate variety to act as a pollinator) if you can have a flowering small branch from a tree, immediately rush around, brushing your borrowed flowers against your tree’s flowers.

But, for heaven’s sake, before doing anything, find out for sure which variety can serve as a pollinator for your present tree, or you could end up with a whole unwanted apple orchard!)

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.