My kids and I love to pick apples in the fall. I find that children are far more likely to eat well if they are involved in the selection, growing, and/or harvesting of their own food. In keeping with that belief, one of the first things my husband and I did when we bought our house was to plant four apple trees to complement the existing avocado, nectarine, feijoa (pineapple guava), pomegranate, loquat, lemon and lime trees on our lot. Now I know what you’re thinking: apple trees in sunny SoCal? Yes, it’s true. You can grow apples even in the moderate climates found here in Los Angeles, Orange County and the rest of Southern California.
Did you know that there are over 8,000 apple varieties grown around the world, and several of those are “low-chill” varieties that can be grown in temperate Southern California? “Chill hours” is a term that refers to the number of yearly hours a climate has below 45° F (7° C). Most varieties require 500-1,000 chill hours, but there are low-chill varieties that can thrive with 500 or less. For greatest success in Southern California, the University of California Cooperative Extension has the following advice:
To ensure successful apple production in mild winter zones of Southern California, select from the following varieties that need less than 300 hr. of chilling: Beverly Hills, Gordon, Tropical Beauty, Anna, Dorsett Golden, and Ein Shemer. Gala has recently proven itself in Southern California except for the lowest chill areas near the coast. Recent U.C. variety evaluations in Irvine, CA determined that the best flavored apples were Fuji, Anna, and Gala. Gala was superb. The most vigorous growers were Pink Lady, Gala, and Jonagold.
Right now on my trees I have some gorgeous, tiny Galas:
and big-but-not-so-pink Pink Ladies:
Earlier in the year, we harvested the Annas and Dorsett Goldens. Tip: Most apples require cross-pollination from different varieties that flower at the same time. So, for best success, choose apple varieties that are low-chill and bloom at the same time, and plant them within 50 feet of each other. I always buy organic (and local when possible), and thus get my bare root fruit trees from Peaceful Valley (I have no affiliation with them, I just like ’em!)
While I was out looking at the trees, I took some other pictures in my yard. While we might not have traditional fall “color” in SoCal, we sure have some colorful beauties:
Do you grow any of your own fruit? Have you had good luck growing apples? My own trees are not that big yet, but we’re getting more and more apples each year.