Wow, I thought planting a tree would be fairly simple. Boy was I wrong! I know virtually nothing about gardening, trees, plants, and such (but want to learn). I had decided that I wanted to plant an apple tree or an american persimmon (d. virginianus, I think it is), at my rural property, for the wildlife to eat, but now my head is completely spinning with information and I need help badly.
The main problem I suppose, is with the hundreds upon hundreds of apple tree varieties, and which to choose - for example, here:
I want to plant this tree in late September or early October of this year, to get it to start growing, so it will bear fruit within 3-5 years hopefully, and frankly I do not have time to digest all of the mass of info out there, and need someone to essentially help me narrow my choices and tell me what kind of fruit tree to plant, to best meet my needs.
Also, it would seem (I'm learning) that apples & persimmons are not "self-pollinating", for the most part, and so then I started reading up on other alternatives which ARE self-pollinating such as apricots, plums, figs, etc. But these seem to be generally less hardy, and I want something that requires the least possible amount of care (of course). I don't want to have to plant two or more trees, or bring in crabapple flowers for pollination either. I very well MAY get around to planting complementary trees for pollination, and probably WILL, but I don't want to HAVE to, if I get busy, etc. (I have many hobbies).
But, then I read that SOME apple trees ARE self-pollinating - it has been alleged that Golden Delicious and Jonathons are two examples that are self-pollinating - and yet, in other places these same varieties are NOT described as being self-pollinating, so what gives? Anyway, that's when I threw up my hands and came here.
Here are my goals, criterion, questions, and concerns:
1. My goal is to feed a sweet treat to the wildlife, particularly the deer. So the variety need NOT be particularly sweet for humans - yes I may eat a few, but that's not what it's for, and to a deer, anything sweeter than a leaf or twig is a sweet treat - even the tartest of apples.
2. What are all the varieties of self-pollinating apples, if any? Even if an apple IS self-pollinating, will it in fact nevertheless bear a larger, better crop if it has a good pollinating variety planted nearby as well?
3. I want a variety that ripens very late, in the late fall preferably, but at least mid-fall.
4. I am in central OK, which I understand is Zone 7. Anyone know if my soil ph is likely to be OK for them? Is September 23rd to early to plant? That's the Saturday I was planning to go plant.
5. Should I look at growing crabapples instead of apples? Aren't they hardier? What about these apple/crabapple hybrids that are popular in Minnesota? They are hardier, no? Or does it not matter to me in a warmer climate here in OK?
6. What about a semi-dwarf tree? Would this be preferable over a regular tree? They are said to grow faster and have other advantages. What are all the pros & cons of these?
7. I was planning on planting these just a few feet above a water-line of a bottom area that periodically floods in some years - will the roots go down so far that it will be too wet in those flood years? Would the tree be better off up on top of a hill, in the a drier area where oaks thrive (assuming I clear a 'hole' in the canopy for them to get sunshine)?
8. One of my goals is to have the tree require as little maintenance as possible, in terms of fertilizer, mulch, pruning, and whathaveyou. I want hardy and low maintenance! Sure I will water & prune the first few years, but I'd like to "set it and forget it" after that.
9. Given my goals, what are the pros and cons of planting an apple vs. say, an apricot, peach, nectarine, plum, persmisson, fig, or pomegranite? Or for that matter, a non-tree fruit such as blackberries? I want a large volume of a sweet fruit for the lowest maintenance possible, in a low area in very fertile soil in central OK. What's the best way to get there?
P.S. Wild Persimmons do grow wild in central Okla, and even in this area (though they're much more common in S.E. Okla). So I thought wild persimmons a natural choice. But they are smaller fruit, and therefore I thought apples would be a better choice just in terms of volume of fruit yield for my deer. And moreover, there is a wealth of information on how to grow apples trees on the net; notsomuch for persimmons. And, I reason that there will be certain varieties of apples which are equally as hardy and adaptable to this area as a wild persimmon.
P.P.S. Peaches are known to do well in this area - how desirable & easy are they as a first tree pet to thrive on its own? Which variety of peach is best for my needs, if I go that route?
Can anyone help? Thanks so much!