I ordered EMLA 111 rootstock, a semidwarf rootstock that is good at anchoring (since we are on a windy hillside). I mail ordered from Boyer Nursery in Biglerville, PA and was quite happy with the trees. This is what Boyer Nursery says about the rootstock on their website:
Semi-Dwarf, Zone 5-8 (Northern Spy x Merton 793)
Mature Height 18-22ft. with recommended 16-26ft. spacing.It is an outstanding choice for spur-type Red Delicious varieties. It has an excellent anchorage, with no staking required. Very drought tolerant, high soil temperatures and adapts to sandy and clay loam. Best Semi-Dwarf for heavy or poorly drained soils. Quite resistant to collar rot and Woolly aphids, and moderately resistant to fireblight. Can be susceptible to burr knots and powdery mildew. Rarely produces root suckers. EMLA 111 produces an early and prolific fruit crop.
A tree planting, pruning, and growing novice, I spent much time watching youtube videos of different pruning styles and reading extension fact sheets on trees. I realized I had on my hands feathered maidens (how lovely!) not 1 year old whips (which look like sticks). I spaced them 16' apart. I did know enough to get trees that have overlapping bloom times so they can pollinate each other.
In the end, after planting, I pruned them back to no more than 3 - 5 branches that had decent crotch angles and pruned those back to an outward-facing bud so they were shorter than the central leader. I also mulched with pea-gravel. After reading well-written arguments that improperly staking trees can lead them to never develop strong root systems, I drove in a single short stake intended to be cut off after 1 season. I don't think they would need staking in a more sheltered planting site, but our hill sure does get some wind. Still to do is putting up some hardware cloth guards to protect the trunks from rodent-nibbling and weighing down a few branches that need wider crotch angles. So, that is the plan for them, and they are leafing out as I write.
I am attempting a bit of a hedgerow of trees, shrubs, flowers, herbs, and the like, similar to the ideas in this article from Permaculture Magazine...Replanting Hedgerows. If it fills in quick enough, perhaps it can keep the deer from feeling comfortable in jumping over at least some sections the fence. If it doesn't, we need to formulate a deer-diversion plan. I planted the apple trees in 4' from the fence, and I got that number from Phillips' recommendation for building deer cages around your apple trees.
In any case, our soil where both where the trees are planted and where we plan to plant vegetables is deficient. I know this from our UMASS Amherst soil test. I have not purchased any rock phosphate or greensand, but I am haphazardly dumping different forms of organic matter and composted chicken manure on top of cardboard or newspaper sheet mulch style to slowly improve our soil (hopefully). C'mon worms, incorporate it! A local coffee shop has offered to supply us with spent coffee grounds and coffee bean chaff from roasting (surprisingly not acidic). We shall see if our soil improvement on the cheap works.
|Coffee Bean Chaff|