Seeking opinions on columnar apple trees
March 16, 2013 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Has anybody planted em? Ate em? I'm eyeing the well-established Scarlet Sentinel/Golden Sentinel vs new Urban Columnar Series. I will pay more up front if that gets me tastier apples. Thanks.
posted by HaveYouTriedRebooting to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I planted a "Scarlet Sentinel" and a "North Pole" in spring 2010, at either end of the 6-foot wide strip of flower-bed between my house and the sidewalk. Summer 2011 I got a few blooms but no fruit set; summer 2012 I got fruit on both (about 8 apples each, between squash-ball and almost-tennis-ball size). Both varieties were good tasty eating apples, a bit on the tart side, not as sweet as a grocery store apple but still pleasant straight up. I thought they'd be delicious cooked, but ate them before I got that far. I'll know more in another 7 months...

Pruning them has me a bit perplexed - I'm not an expert in this "tree" thing, but I read a couple of articles and I'm trying my best. What confused me was that I bought them as bare-root, planted a straight stick ~ 3 feet long .75" diameter, with a little pyramid-shaped tip. What grew that first year was 4 shoots/branches out of that tip; the trunk didn't grow "up" at all, just split out those branches. My best guess was to cut off all but one of them, and that branch became the new trunk. It seems to have worked okay, but during the winter I'm kind of embarrassed to look at them - fortunately the trees don't look too deformed when they have leaves.

So, as a non-expert, I have successfully grown these guys, and they were definitely edible, and I was very pleased with myself. I can't begin to say that the fruit was optimally pruned, thinned, ripened, watered, cared for, etc, which might have almost as much effect on its deliciousness as the choice of cultivar. But hey, it was petty darn good. Feel free to memail me if you can't find an actual expert.
posted by aimedwander at 7:27 PM on March 16, 2013

We have two columnar apples. We're new to fruit trees generally, so I can't say that they've been especially well taken care of. They're also planted near the sidewalk on a busy street, so most of the apples get picked and eaten or thrown before we get to them. The ones we've had have been delicious -- tart and crisp and juicy.
posted by linettasky at 9:03 AM on March 17, 2013

I have a Scarlet Sentinel and a Golden Sentinel, and just like aimedwander, I planted them in 2010, got a few blooms but no fruit in 2011, and apples on both in 2012. So if you do decide to get columnar trees, don't be worried if you don't get fruit in the first season. I wasn't really expecting any fruit in that first year, but then when there were blooms on my weird little stick-trees, I kind of got my hopes up.

I was warned that the fruit probably wasn't going to be all that good, but I actually thought they were pretty tasty for plain eating. They were firm, crisp, and maybe a little tart, if I remember right. I did cook some into a tasty applesauce, but mixed in with a wild collection of other types of apples, so there's no way to say what they tasted like cooked. I hope to get enough apples this year to cook something out of only my apples.

I chose columnar apples because I didn't think I had the space for a "normal" tall apple tree, and I kind of liked the idea of planting them in pots. Later I found out that the standard commercial apple trees are usually very small trees that don't require much space (although I think they usually get trellised) so that really shouldn't have affected my decision. I'm pretty proud of my little trees, though.
posted by Secretariat at 7:51 PM on March 17, 2013

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