Great Apple Trees for Western Washington (Seattle).
While my pear and peach trees have forsaken me, my apple trees continue to bloom with promise. And after a year of promising, the goods are in. The following apple varieties seem well suited to our cool maritime climate and produce great apples without the use of pesticides or fussy growing techniques or protocols.
Of all the lovely blossoms that decorate the trees,
And shower down their petals with every breath of breeze,
There is nothing so sweet or fair to me,
As the delicate blooms of the apple tree.
Plant the Right Variety for Your Climate
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” These are words to live by when planting fruit trees. Do your research, and find the best choice for your site, climate, and subsequent care. This is really important if you grow organically; apples (like people) can be temperamental. Err on the side of vigor. Check your local extensions, fruit clubs and garden forums for pertinent and timely information.
Not One Bad Apple
The following beauty pageant of pommes is by no means comprehensive and merely represents my most recent and respectable harvest of apples from relatively young trees (4-7 years old). Here’s my list of standouts for 2011.
Belle de Boskoop apple: I would have planted this tree merely for its name (pronounced Bell-da-boss-k0e), lucky for me it’s a all-around great and heavy producing apple with lots of personality. Wonderfully tart, the flavor is unique as if you spritzed lemon juice on it. Belle de Boskoop bakes and cooks well, and is perfect for chunky applesauce, sturdy pies, bubbling crisps, and juicy grunts. Learn more.
- Beni Shogun Fuji apple is one of my favorite fresh eating apples. Because Fuji needs a long growing season, and I live west of the Cascades where long summers rarely vacation, I was in search of a sport of Fuji that was better suited for cooler climates. I found Beni Shogun Fuji and I’m happy to report old Beni is a champ, weathering our cool growing season admirably and ripening about a month earlier than the standard fuji. The apples were glowing red and firm as an unripe pear. A few weeks in the fridge and they mellowed into juicy little sugar bombs.
Bramley’s Seedling apple is handsdown my favorite baking apple. It’s a tree that says stand back, I’m ready to grow some great cooking apples and plenty of them. Such a very heavy producer, Bramley’s Seedling usually requires support stakes to keep the overloaded limbs from breaking. Apples are big, firm, crisp and flavorful–spirited for sure, and perfect for cooking or eating fresh though on the uber-tart side when first picked. Learn more.
- Cameo apple had me at hello. I was willing to take a chance on this apple, not sure how well it would grow in Western Washington. You should be able to find Cameo in your produce section, so give it a try. It is a juicy, crisp fresh eating apple suitable simply for dessert with a little aged cheddar. Normally cameos are more red than yellow; perhaps their light blush is in response to my fondness toward them.
Honeycrisp, an apple that shares the unlikely combination of sweetness and crunch, lives up to its name. When first picked, the apple is wonderfully tart, but a stay in the fridge for a week or two renders it succulent and sweet. While my tree was slow to produce, taking four years to harvest a decent crop, I feel it was certainly worth the wait. Honeycrisp is a real dazzler in the orchard and in the kitchen and my best apple for 2011 (actually it shares the title with Bramley’s Seedling). Learn more.
- Jonagold apple is an amazingly good all-purpose apple in my orchard. In fact, if I could only plant a couple apple trees, Jonagold would top the list. As a cross between a Gold Delicious and Jonathan, it brings a lot of flavor to the table. It is super sweet but finishes off with a very nice tartness. Fresh eating or cooking up a storm, this is my prize pick for best apple in 2010. More from WSU extension.
- Delicious sweet-tart snacking gem, Liberty apples are a great choice for the home and organic gardener. Known for disease resistance, reliability and excellent quality, the Liberty shines on all levels and performs well in our cool climate. Learn more.
- York apple is one of those apples that tastes like it has a history (and it does). Discovered in 1830 in York, Pennsylvania, the apple enjoys a subtle flavor and appealing, firm texture. While not overly sweet, York is an apple I could eat everyday, whether or not it actually did keep the doctor away. Big and lop-sided usually, it’s also a very good baking apple and is sometimes called York Imperial. Learn more.
- Wickson crabapples are a standard apple’s mini-me. They are small, tasty, not overly sour, and well suited to both fresh eating and cider making. I also like to pickle them. Another advantage, Wickson crabapples prove prolific bloom producers and awesome cross- pollinators in the orchard.
- Learn more.
Each year I list my favorite and best performing apples. 2012 should be a good year as most of my apple trees will be reaching fruiting maturity.