At this time of the year one of the most popular questions asked in our CountryLife stores is ‘How do you know when the apples from my tree are ripe?’ They aren’t sure whether they should pick them right now or wait until they fall off of the tree naturally.
Some good varieties of early apple trees which generally are ready to pick in early September are “Discovery”, “Katie” and “Gala”. We stock these varieties and many others in our CountryLife stores.
You can plant these types of trees any time of the year because they are grown in pots. All you need to do is dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots, apply a little slow release feed and water in very well.
How do I know if my apples are ripe enough to pick?
Ripeness can be checked with a very simple test:
- Cup the bottom of the apple with your hand
- Gently twist the apple
If the apple drops from the tree easily and into your hand with a simple twist then you know your apple is ripe and ready for picking.
If you have to pull them then this means they aren’t ripe and not yet ready to fall from the tree.
If they aren’t ready for picking come back a week later and recheck them!
Later fruiting varieties such as “Cox’s Orange”, “Granny Smith” and “Golden Delicious” are usually ready to pick by the end of September and early October. The benefit of these later fruiting trees is that the apples usually tend to keep for a longer period. Early apples normally only keep for about two weeks. After that they get all soft and wrinkly and aren’t very nice to eat.
Best way to store apples
Granny Smiths and Golden Delicious are best stored in a cool damp shed if available.
Once they are ripe and have been picked, place them in a tray and separate them using cardboard or newspaper. This way if any of them go mouldy it prevents the other apples getting contaminated.
The reason a cool damp shed is the best way to store apples is because, by the shed being cool and damp the moisture/juice from the apples doesn’t evaporate out as much as if they were in a warm dry environment.
The apples sold in the supermarkets are often dipped in a type of wax to keep the moisture in. That’s why they tend to last a lot longer than your home grown apples.
If you don’t have a cool damp shed to keep them in another good way of storing your apples is in a plastic container with a lid and keep them outside the house. They keep much better being outside the house compared to being inside. This way they may last up until Christmas!
Make sure your apple tree is secure during the winter because they are weakly rooted trees and can be damaged by the wind during the winter. This can be done using our soft tree ties which are soft and stretchy and don’t cause damage to the bark of the tree.
We’re here to help
If you need any help with deciding if your apples are ripe for picking or choosing the best varieties of apple trees for your garden, talk to any of our horticulturists in store. We’d love to help. It’s always very helpful to bring in some photos of your garden to help us visualise the space you are working with.