Apple Trees produce Leaves Before Blossom

Apple trees, unlike some other fruit trees, produce their leaves before the blossoms. So we can cautiously count three to four weeks from the first unfurling leaf to the first blossoms.

The leaves on our apple trees are just unfurling which means the blossoms are a couple of weeks away.

From the blossoms the fruits will set and if those little sets get frozen we will have no crop.

Young apple tree in the midwest.

There is another cold weekend on the way and the blossoms are due in two or three weeks (fingers crossed) so we may just slide through and hopefully get some apples set this year.

Young apple tree just beginning to leaf out.

When I was a young single Mum I spent a number of seasons picking apples for a friend on his family orchard. We were paid a contract rate per bin and I only had school hours to pick.(kids at school) So, zooming in and out of the trees on my hydra-ladder, I became incredibly fast with the lowest bruising rate on the orchard.

I know my apples.

But it is hard to grow the newer varieties of apple in the conditions here in the midwest. Even on sub freezing rootstock. In the winter of 2014 we lost our big hardy old apple trees and the old peach trees then the cherry trees faltered and eventually went down. So, over the last few years we have been replanting. We have four young apple trees already beginning to fruit , four two years old and more added every year. Plus the cherries.

Apples should fruit well after four to eight years. Things take time.

I train the apple trees in a vase shape above a strong leader (think of an upside down umbrella with the handle as the roots) so light gets into the centre of the tree. Apples need sunlight to colour up. We achieve this by pruning just above a shoot that is growing in the direction we want the branch to go. Your best apples are going to grow on two year old wood so keep this in mind. It is a bit like chess – always thinking a number of moves ahead.

Though to be fair I am a terrible chess player.

The cherries are in the Mad Kings Garden so I am sure he will let them grown any way they want to. Not my department.

Soon after set I will get the ladder and prune so the apples remain within reach. Allowing the four top leaders to stretch their arms out almost horizontally. Apples don’t grow well on vertical leaders.

ducks around a water bowl

I was not here last summer which meant the apples were not pruned and grew wild!! And in the fall Tima and Wai camped out under the apple trees with their mouths open. I am back in late August from my travels so hopefully I will have apples to preserve for the winter.


Every day I go down to the asparagus beds to find the new shoots and weed and mulch (with straw) around them.

Spots of asparagus being mulched up with straw.

I think if I do this as I see the shoots appear I will recover some of the crop. Asparagus does not like competition and we have always battled weeds and grass down there. Asparagus sells well but due to the lack of hands I am reducing the surface area to this polka dot of asparagus beds. It is important to only bite off what one can chew. And one hour in the morning and one hour at dusk in the asparagus is all I can chew.

Though of course I can eat asparagus morning, noon and night!


The rhubarb on the other hand seems to thrive with neglect.

Rhubarb growing in the kitchens garden on the prairie. Wheat fields in the background.

Weeding in here has been a pleasure.


I drag weed buckets with me as I go. Thistles into one bucket to be burned and weeds in the other for the pigs and the chickens.

Plus (of course) late afternoon weeding always goes best with music and a lovely gin and tonic in my favourite jar (I lost the lid which is really annoying). By the end of the day yesterday my Day Basket had collected eggs, asparagus, a leash, my speaker, a drink, secateurs and wire cutters. Oh and a trowel. Or two.


At 6.30am this morning the wind was already up – which will make todays gardening less than fun. And with a high of 80F forecast the glasshouse is emptied again for a few days.

That wind! I need a hat pin when I am outside! I used to have one that belonged to my grandmother – lost through the cracks of time. Sigh! Mum maintained that a good hat pin was all a woman needed when walking home from the bus at night. She used to demonstrate to us how to whip it out and stab an attacker – I will not tell you where. But you don’t think the hat pins were just for keeping ones hat on in the wind did you?

My mother was a ruthless woman.

Weather Today April 19 2023.

Though I actually need a hat pin to keep my straw hat on in this wind. Because I never ever go outside without my hat.

Have a gorgeous day!


26 Comments on “Apple Trees produce Leaves Before Blossom

  1. We started water in WIND! Big Wind—70 m.p.h. gusts. Sometimes knocking us over. And now it’s freezing outside (32* with wind) Sure is a messy Spring.

  2. Do you ever get any of the cherries, or do the birds get to them first?! I cannot remember, but does the farm have any nut trees? I know many are more warm climate preferring but I think walnuts and filberts (hazelnuts) might withstand Illinois. I don’t know what brought that to mind this morning, other than the image in my head of you picking apples. As a child the neighbors had filbert trees and I remember being sent out to scavenge for all the dropped nuts that fell into our yard. I was also known to scavenge a bit into the neighbors yard as well 😉

    • Yes – Black Walnuts grow really well in this area. In fact they are native to Illinois and you know how I love to grow what loves to grow! I need to go and look up Filberts – I am not sure I even know what those are! Thank you for that Deb!

      • And here is me thinking of digging up & sending you black walnut saplings which pop up here amidst azalea bushes & daylily collections & everywhere else a butty squirrel thinks would be a good idea. But I guess you don’t need any NC black walnuts for the Friendship Forest. They are native & prolific here also. I wish hazelnuts were too. We had hickory nuts when we lived higher up in the mtns. & in Central Ky.
        Maybe you have those too.

  3. I tried growing apples and pears inside bottles about 20 years ago in Cornwall, but the wind is so strong there that it didn’t work. I was going to add alcohol when they had grown. The fruit trapped inside is refered to as a prisonnière.

            • Please explain this méthode, Mad. Under bell jars? Inside in tact bottles? I’m trying to envision & come up with Poire William…..but I am intrigued. I live by a creek & do not not have great winds. Perhaps ……

              • This is the way in which Poire William is made. You put a tiny pear bud inside a regular bottle and tie/wire the bottle to the tree (so that it dosesn’t blow around) and the pear grows inside the bottle. When it is big enough, you snap the pear stalk off and fill the bottle with eau de vie (or vodka):
                If you Google it, there are lots of pictures and references online to help 😉

                • Merci beaucoup. I have never looked that up. Even though I have a bottle (half gone) sitting over there right now & I’ve wondered. Maybe I’ll have a see nip to see how its ageing…….though I probably won’t try the branch in the bottle myself, since I don’t even have a poire tree.

                    • Hi Mad Dog– as much as we detest plastic, might a lighter weight plastic bottle work – warer bottle or a litre or 2-litre? Although, would not be good for years, just months.

                    • Yes, I don’t see why not! It’s not traditional, but it’s far less likely to break the branch when windy.

  4. My rhubarb looks like yours. Always a reliable crop. I pick, run it through the food processor to slice it, then freeze containers the right size to make pies. The old recipe of my wife’s grandmother always works. Sometimes I add different fruits to the mix.

  5. I recently discovered two new apple varieties I love, but as they’re bred for the Australian climate I’m not sure how they’d fare in your frigid winters. One is MiApple, which is Royal Gala x Fuji: sweet, tart and juicy, and the other is Envy, Royal Gala x Braeburn, which is my favourite, and delicious even when slightly soft and wrinkly. And currently, I’m waiting for my brother to send me a photo of the Packham pear tree he has just planted in honour of my Pa, who would have turned 100 today 🥲 It is taking a place of honour in his 2 acre food forest amongst all the other nut and fruit trees he has there.

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