The children are here, the house is built, now the tree has to be planted. The Elstar apple is a possible choice for beginners. Below you will find the most important information about the location, planting, care and cutting of this apple tree.

What is special about the Elstar apple

The plant genus apples (Malus) consists of around 50 species. Among which there are several interesting species, old egg and cherry apple, tea apple and coral apple, wool apple and purple apple, for example. Of which we usually only perceive one type: the “Malus domestica”, the cultivated apple.

This one type of cultivated apple has achieved unrivaled prominence and economic importance because breeders from all over the world loved to dedicate themselves to the malus domestica: Even the tiny fruits of the wild apples, from which the cultivated apple originated in the distant past, were considered to be life-prolonging medicinal donors. The Malus domestica itself quickly made a name for itself in fruit growing because it is the most versatile of all domestic types of fruit. It developed early on in our culture to become the epitome of all fruits, the “fruit” par excellence.

There were an incredible number of cultivars of this cultivated apple, around 3,000 varieties in our country around 1880 and more than 20,000 varieties worldwide. Unfortunately, globalization has not meant that we can gradually taste the 17,000 unknown varieties from all over the world, but rather that ever larger corporations “feed” us with ever more faceless (but easy and inexpensive to produce) uniform apples. – In the average supermarket there are only 5 to 6 apple varieties, a total of around 60 apple varieties are economically important for us, and there are only around 1,500 varieties that various associations (have to) take care of maintaining.

The autumn apple Elstar is one of the popular varieties; it was bred in 1955 at the Institute for Horticultural Plant Breeding in Wageningen / Netherlands from the varieties Golden Delicious and Ingrid Marie and entered in the stud book in 1972.

Elstar is popular, aromatic and juicy and finely sour, is prone to only a few diseases, copes best with cooler climates and is good. It can be harvested from the beginning to the end of September, the fruits are ready to eat immediately after the harvest – a real beginner apple, which is not for nothing the apple that z. B. was the most widely grown apple in Germany in 2012.

It is certainly better if you grow an Elstar apple than one of the modern club varieties that, like many branded products, are more convincing because of their name and appearance than their taste. You shouldn’t do that so easily anyway, you really have to join a club in order to be able to grow a variety like “Pink Lady”, the supply of these lifestyle apples should be kept tight, that’s the only way to keep the price nice and high .

However, it should not be concealed that by growing an Elstar apple you are not doing your best to preserve old and rare apple varieties, but are growing one of the apple varieties that already dominate the market: 70% of the European apple supply are provided by the varieties Golden Delicious, Jonagold and Red Delicious, followed by Gala, Granny Smith, Elstar, Cox Orange and Schöner from Boskoop.

Whether this is absolutely necessary in the home garden, or whether you would prefer to plant one of the regional varieties that are worth preserving, e.g. B. an “Apple of the Future” in Bremen, a “Paradise Apple” in Hamburg, a “Gloria Mundi” in Berlin, a “Privy Councilor Dr. Oldenburg “in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, a” Berliner Schlotterapfel “in Brandenburg, a” Five-Year Plan “in Saxony-Anhalt, an” Eva apple “in Saxony, a” Schönen aus Nordhausen “in Thuringia, a” Pomme de Coeur “in Schleswig-Holstein , a “Red Love Apple” in Lower Saxony, a “Woodstock Pippin” in North Rhine-Westphalia, a “Wealthy” in Hesse, “Rhineland’s Fame” in Rhineland-Palatinate, a “Bohémien” in Saarland, the “Discovery” in Baden-Württemberg or a “Florina” in Bavaria would probably be worth considering, the world would become more colorful.

The old apple varieties are, by the way, often exemplary resistant to diseases and pests and beat every newer cultivar, but now – back to Elstar:

The right location

The Elstar apple tree feels at home in cooler climates, so it can cope with any location in the German home garden. Just remember that you need a second apple tree as a pollinator nearby. If there is not enough space, this can also be a crab apple, a suitable variety is recommended to you in the nursery.

Elstar is a medium to strong growing tree that will soon reach its final height of 2 to 6 meters, depending on the cultivated form, and the width will be 2 to 3 meters. These are the dimensions of an average Elstar tree from the nursery, if you have very little space, you can also purchase Elstar cultivated forms, which remain very small and can even be grown as espalier fruit. But there are also very original Elstar trees, which are grafted on a base that allows them to spread and become really large apple trees, the crown of which can reach a mighty diameter. How big “your” Elstar will be is decided when you go shopping at the tree nursery, where you will be advised accordingly.

Depending on the growth conditions, an Elstar apple tree grows 30 to 50 cm per year, so based on the size you can calculate when your tree will be, how high and how wide. The location should also offer the full-grown tree some space in the area, remember that you have to have good access all around for pruning, especially a sufficient minimum distance to the house should be planned.

Otherwise, any light, sunny or partially shaded place is fine, the sunnier an apple tree is, the higher the vitamin content in the fruit will later be. The planning of the rest of the garden should be included, an apple tree next to the vegetable patch would e.g. B. at some point prevent the vegetables from growing because they cast too much shadow.

Any conventional garden soil that stores water is sufficient, but is permeable and not compacted. You will find out in a moment how the soil is prepared for planting, if necessary.

Plant an Elstar apple

Once the right location has been found, a more nutrient-poor garden soil can be prepared by heavily fertilizing it with compost. The compost can also be mixed with the excavated material here when digging the planting hole.

The best time to plant is in autumn, and this is the time of year when you will find the largest range in tree nurseries. The trees grow best in autumn and have enough time until spring to calmly form stable roots before growth in the upper area comes to the fore.

The easiest way to plant young apple trees with balls, so-called container plants, these are more likely to bear fruit than bare-root apple trees. How to proceed:

  • Take the bale out of the container and submerge it in water that has been enriched with mature compost for about an hour.
  • Meanwhile, dig out the planting hole with a diameter of about one meter and a depth at the level of the root ball.
  • The depth should be measured so that the grafting point (bulging thickening) sits 10 to 15 cm above the ground, so you avoid unwanted root formation.
  • At the bottom of the planting hole, the soil is loosened and solid substances such as stones or tree roots are removed.
  • If necessary, the removed soil can now be mixed with compost to make it more nutrient-rich.
  • When the roots have been watered, the tree is placed in the planting pit, you now fill in soil all around.
  • As you do this, be sure to shake the tree a little occasionally so that soil settles between the roots.
  • When you plant a high trunk, a support pole is installed in the planting hole at the same time.
  • When the tree is in good shape, tread the earth firmly all around, then the tree is poured, and tall trunks are tied to the support post.

You do not necessarily have to plant such container plants in autumn, although the acclimatization period over winter is advantageous. If necessary, you can also plant at other times of the year, as long as the soil is frost-free. A container tree with balls does not necessarily need the planting pruning described below, you often buy the young tree in a balanced condition. However, if you are planting a bare-root young tree, this pruning is usually absolutely necessary: ​​then you have to cut roots that are too long before planting, and adapt the growth in the upper area to the root circumference, the root mass and the plant mass to be supplied in the upper area must be balanced .

Tip: A freshly planted tree must be watered well at the beginning, here you can consolidate the stand if you water with a mixture of mud and water for the first time.

The care

Caring for an apple tree is essentially limited to supplying it with sufficient moisture. You shouldn’t let your apple tree suffer from drought, especially at first, the soil must be kept moist throughout. When the apple tree is well rooted, it no longer necessarily needs additional watering, even on hot summer days, but prolonged drought saps the strength that the tree should actually use to set fruit. Therefore, in this case, regular additional watering is recommended, with enough water that the roots are moistened to a depth of around 20 cm.

Freshly planted apple trees are usually well taken care of by adding compost when planting and later only need a mulch or some compost on the tree grate. It can look different if there is no tree grate because the tree was planted in the middle of the lawn. A lack of fertilizer can occur here, if a tree that is overgrown by grass is visibly caring, you should provide it with a complete fertilizer for fruit trees.

Otherwise, in autumn you should make sure that no fallen leaves remain under the tree, which would be a welcome breeding ground for apple tree diseases, and of course generally keep an eye on whether any pests and diseases are spreading in the apple tree. Even outside of the time of pruning, you should therefore regularly check branches and leaves, shoots, flowers and fruits to see whether they are developing normally.

Cutting the apple tree

Apple trees must be pruned in order for them to develop growth that would suit a home garden, and most importantly, so that they will bear abundant fruit.

The correct pruning of fruit trees is a job that requires years of experience and definitely cannot be taught in an article – but with your apple tree in your home garden you are also not dependent on the yield like a fruit grower, you can “prune your apple tree learn “, the worst that can happen is a tree that grows crooked and does not bear any fruit. If you do not want to take this risk, you should – at least in the first few years – leave the pruning to professionals, for intrepid natures with a pronounced urge to discover the following is an initial overview of the pruning of an apple tree:

1. Plant pruning

When a young apple tree is planted, it should first put its energy into root formation and acclimatization. He is prevented from doing this if he has a disproportionately large number of shoots to take care of; the shoots are therefore removed or shortened in a balanced relationship to the roots. You do not need more than one (highest) central branch and three to four side shoots, the “neat” arrangement of which is already initiated with the pruning of the plant.

2. Maintenance and conservation pruning

You have already determined the main branch when you cut the plant with the central branch and selected the leading branches with the remaining side shoots; the crown is now built from this starting position. The main branch should simply continue to grow in height and lengthen the trunk, it is only shortened to maintain the juice balance, see below. The leading branches go off from the trunk, please evenly with a distance of at least a hand’s length in all directions, because the fruit wood branches off from the leading branches, and that needs light everywhere.

In addition to this “cut design”, the maintenance cut is about stimulating the tree to develop the right fruit branches and at the same time ensuring that the tree receives good light all around. The guide branches are shortened by about a third with each cut, and the intersections of all the guide branches located “on one floor” should be at the same level, this is the so-called juice scale, the trunk extension may only be shortened within the scope of this juice scale so that she stops something over the main branches.

These were basically the main aim of the cut, fruit branches that are too old and no longer viable are naturally removed, as well as dead, diseased and inward-growing shoots and all shoots that are growing vertically upwards (if these occur in heaps, you should start laying the the usual cutting time of February / March). Outward-growing shoots are mainly preserved so that the crown becomes wider.

An Elstar is a real beginner apple, but will never be suspected of being voted the “rarest apple in the settlement”. If apple scab, powdery mildew and collar rot are common in your area, you should look for strains that are more resistant to these diseases, as Elstar is at risk. Even for people prone to allergies, an Elstar (like other young breeds, Jonagold or Golden Delicious, for example) is not the right choice; according to a study by the German Allergy and Asthma Association, they react more intensely to these new breeds.

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