I love apples. Especially old ones. I'm honored to be trusted with the care of a particularly old apple right now, one that's probably around 60yrs old, and was planted from a cutting of an even older tree. Last year the old lady was struggling a bit. We gave her a fertilizer feeding, some pruning, and a few sulphur sprays to nurse her through the wet spring. There's no way to know how much longer she will live but this year, at least, she is beautiful and elegant and full of life.
We don't know what variety they are. Last year the few apples that formed dropped long before they were ripe. I expected that with the fertilizer feeding, and hoped she was putting down more roots and getting ready to make more leaves to help her grow stronger. I've been told they are on the small side, and can be eaten out of hand but are really good as baking apples.
I tried taking cuttings and rooting them last year, just in case our well meaning ministrations were too little, too late. She had been left to her own devices for a very long time and I wasn't sure how she would take to our offerings of help. I tried three cuttings in water and three in soil- with no luck. Not surprising, considering that all of the growth was old, hard wood that develops roots grudgingly, if at all. This year, I was able to find new growth, still flexible and green, to try again. They're on my windowsill with the rest of my current propagation experiments.
The apple cuttings are on the left. That's calamus in the bowl next to it. When I checked on the apple cuttings today, there were little nubs appearing along the stem under the water. That's usually a good sign. I'm hopeful, but trying to be patient. I want these cuttings to take so badly that I'm afraid I will somehow rush the process or make a mistake. I know I need to be mindful of the light and make sure the cuttings get enough sun. I think that was the reason some of my cuttings failed last year.
We've been putting in some raised beds for a vegetable garden and herbs near the apple tree. Far enough away that her roots won't be bothered, but close enough to make picking apples and noodling about in the garden easy. I would love to be able to plant a few of her children nearby to keep her company. Even if these cuttings don't take, either, I will try again until I figure out how to do it right. That way, this little piece of family history can continue to thrive alongside the grandmother apple tree for as long as she chooses to stay with us.