Possibly against my better judgment I decided to attempt growing apple trees. Never mind that I’ve lived here at about 8,700 feet in the Wet Mountains 20 years now and know very well the schizophrenic nature of the climate and ecology.
After doing some research on varieties I decided upon a Harelred, which is rated to 9,000 feet, and a Honey Crisp, rated to 8,000 feet. The former was developed by the University of Minnesota for cold climates. Obviously we’re over the limit with the latter, but then rattlesnakes are not supposed to exist above 8,000 feet either and we’ve got plenty of them here. In fact my neighbor found one in her garage yesterday.
Both apple trees were purchased locally at Native Woods in Westcliffe and are about 5 feet tall. The Haralred actually has four small apples on it. While in a grocery the other day my son Harrison suggested we buy more apples for the trees, and that might not be a bad idea.
After choosing a location based on full sun exposure, I dug the holes wide and deep, then filled back in with topsoil, planting the trees so that the graft knot was just above the surface. I then constructed a four-foot-high circular fence around each tree to keep rabbits and especially deer from eating them.
And then the wind began to blow at gale force for more than 24 hours. I finally parked my truck and stock trailer alongside the trees as a sort of temporary windbreak.
In the process of researching and planting these American variety trees I also by happenstance located some Kazkhstan apple seedlings. It is believed the apple we know today originated in Kazakhstan, and these apples are closest to a wild variety. My geography meets the criteria as a test location for these apples and I hope to be planting one of these trees later this week.