Saturday, October 29, 2011

Be Happy...Grow Your Own

My new baby...a tiny little Brownlee's Russet Apple Tree.
I am a modern, urban, concrete dweller. I, of romantic grow-your-own ideals and, until this August, virtually no direct sunlight. My north facing view was lovely for gazing at the city skyline but terrible for attempting to grow anything useful. After a couple of disastrous attempts at harnessing the 1/2 square foot of sunlight that I enjoyed from July through August, I swore off growing things until I moved to sunnier climbs. I would flip longingly through stories of patio produce and condo farmers thinking that one day, my time would come. The ultimate embodiment of my fruitless (natch!) dreams was realized the day I saw a picture of an apple tree, happily bearing fruit while trellised on someone's patio. Someday, I thought to myself, I will have my own apple tree. I will have to wait for my third best seller before attempting to own an actual house and yard, but a tree...I can make that happen.

This summer, I moved into a new suite that indeed had access to actual sun. Soon, I thought...I can grow something! I thought I would wait for summer, until my trip to the UBC apple festival a couple of weeks ago. It was a beautiful crisp autumn day. There were trees for sale. Grafted onto dwarf stock. Could they be grown in a container? They could, I was reassured! Giddy with local food fever, I decided to take the horticultural plunge.

From a sea of options, parameters were defined: I would need a tree with hardy root stock (M109, I was told) to resist disease and the opposite-of-ideal conditions of life in a container. I would also need a self propagating tree. You see, you need a boy tree and a girl tree to grow apples. I was not aware. And, given that I was already getting myself in over my head with my new tree, perhaps I would not dive into having twins just yet. So, a Brownlee's Russet it was! I was so excited to take that little tree home...I could practically taste the apple crumbles, homemade cider and apple butter to come...

Recognizing the glimmer of cluelessness about me, the wonderful volunteer at the apple festival sent me home with a sheet of instructions on how to grow apples in container. I studied and surveyed. The very next Saturday, I schlepped to home depot and picked up some supplies. Husband and son safely exiled for a walk, I set about to potting this little gem.

Following my instructions, I drilled holes in the pot for better drainage (yay, power tools! and cute gardening gloves!)...

As per instructions, I mixed some perlite and lime with my soil for better drainage and pH balance...

And then in went my little tree!

I now stare at my tree daily. It looks very small and delicate and I hope I can help it thrive. As the days get colder, I will wrap it with a blanket to keep warm (don't laugh...the instructions tell me to!) and do my best not to ignore it as I do all of my house plants. 

I will keep you all posted...wish me luck!! And, if you have any container gardening tips, please do share.

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