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A Guide to Pruning Apple Trees

By | Apple, Orchard

One of our most common questions at this time of the year is how to prune apple trees – so we thought we’d write a blog post about it!  We asked you to submit your questions, and we are going to answer them!  Pruning is so important, so let us guide you to a healthy and happy apple tree!

Materials needed:

  • pruners or any other tool that can be safely used to trim branches
  • ladder
  • safety glasses

How to do it:

The first step to pruning an apple tree is to cut off any sucker growth.  These branches are usually easy to spot, as they are the branches that grow straight up in the air.  Cut all of them off at the base.  New sucker shoots grow each year, so it’s important to prune them as they can take energy away from apple production.

The next step is removing any dead or diseased branches.  Overall tree health is so important to both the longevity of the tree and fruit production.  If you notice any diseased branches on your tree, make sure you discard them after you prune them!

After this is done, it’s time to look at the tree and shape it.  You will first want to look at any branches that are “criss crossed” or in a forked “Y” shape.  Prune these away.  Imagine the tree in the summertime – you want good airflow between all of the branches, and you want sunlight to be able to get into the tree.

Lastly, when shaping the tree, prune it to your desired height and width.  Think of how you will be harvesting your apples, and prune accordingly.  A tree that is too tall may be difficult to pick from.  A tree that is too wide may interfere with other plants in your yard.  Also, keep in mind that a young tree you may have recently planted will require less pruning than an older apple tree in your yard.

Pruning doesn’t have to be a difficult task!  It can actually be quite rewarding to take this step now to ensure a plentiful apple crop later in the season.

Check out this video to see how we do it!

Other FAQ’s about pruning apple trees:

Q: What do I use to prune my apple tree? I only have small hand pruners!

A: Depending on the size of your tree, hand pruners will work just fine!  For any larger branches, you may need to use a small hand saw.

Q: How much can I take off of my fruit tree?

A: A good rule of thumb to follow is never take more than one third off the tree.

Q: I also have pear trees and plum trees.  How do I prune these?

A: You can follow our apple pruning guidelines and apply them to pear and plum trees as well.

Q: Do you give lessons on pruning?

A: At this time, we do not give lessons on pruning.  However, we are always here to help, so never hesitate to stop by with any questions!  We hope this blog post and video help give you the confidence you need to prune your fruit trees.

Q: I just moved into a new home and there is a very large apple tree that the previous owners never pruned.  What do I do?

A: Getting a mature tree into the shape and size that you want may take two seasons since you should only prune one third of the tree branches away at a time.  Start off by removing any large limbs that are growing in the wrong direction (may have to use a chainsaw), prune the suckers and then work on the branches that are criss crossing your tree.  This same step will need to be repeated again in the second year.

Q: When do I prune?
A: In this area, the ideal time to prune an apple tree is in from mid-February through the month of March (sometimes beginning of April is good, too!).  It may vary each year depending on weather.  You want to get this done before the tree buds out!

Check out another one of our pruning videos here!  And if you want to learn more about our apple orchard, click here!

Valentine’s Day Apple Cake

By | Apple, Recipe

With Valentine’s Day being through the week this year, making something that is both quick and delicious is a must.  I found the perfect dessert for the occasion! This apple cake is so easy to make… and I bet you have all of the ingredients on hand!

First, let’s talk about the apples.  Anytime a recipe calls for apples, I always use a mix of at least two varieties.  Usually, McIntosh and Cortland.  Macs are a bit on the tart side, and tend to cook soft, while Cortlands are a touch sweeter and hold their shape when cooked.  It really is the perfect duo!  Since these varieties also store well over the winter, I always have a great supply of them in my fridge.  Did you know that we grow over 30 varieties of apples in our orchard?  To learn more about what ones you would love to use in this recipe, click here!

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I baked this cake in a heart shaped springform pan, but any springform pan will do.

Minimal steps and directions = perfect for your kids to help make!

This cake couldn’t be any easier to prepare!

The longest part was waiting for the cake to bake!

That texture! Yum!

This recipe was adapted from the Smitten Kitchen blog.  You can find the original recipe here, or follow along here to see how I made it.   It’s a Russian apple cake, and after making it, I think it will be a staple dessert in our home!

Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Apple Sharlotka

butter or nonstick spray for greasing pan
6 large apples (3 McIntosh and 3 Cortland)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
ground cinnamon
powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.  I like to trace my pan on the parchment paper and cut it out to get the perfect fit! Next, butter the paper and the sides of the pan.  Peel and slice the apples, and chop them into bite-sized pieces (the bigger your pieces, the chunkier the cake will be).  Put the apple pieces directly into the springform pan.

Next, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until they are blended and thick.  Beat in the vanilla, then stir in the flour until combined.  Using a spatula, pour the batter into the pan over the apples.  Spread it around to ensure the batter goes down into the apples.

Bake in the oven for about 60 minutes – or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool the cake in the pan, and then flip on a cooling rack or plate to peel off the parchment paper.  Flip back onto your serving plate and dust on the powdered sugar and cinnamon.

We loved eating this with a serving of vanilla ice cream!

We hope you enjoy this recipe and treat someone special this Valentine’s Day!

Top 5 Houseplant Picks

By | Garden Centre, Plants

Can you believe February is here?!  We have been enjoying our down time after the holidays, and we are starting to get back in to the hustle and bustle of spring preparations!  The month of January was definitely a combination of both rest and work.  Our store is closed, however we have been busy completing all of our orders, quotes, workshops, and meetings.  We are re-energized and ready to tackle our next few projects before we start up the greenhouses!

During our down time at home, we have been sharing some of our houseplant collections with you via our Instagram stories (if you aren’t following us on Instagram yet, check us out @marlinorchards!).  Your feedback and interest in our houseplants was so inspiring, so we thought we’d share with you our top 5 houseplant picks!  These 5 houseplant picks were chosen based on maintenance level, practicality, aesthetics, and sentimental value.  Enjoy our selections!

Spider Plant
Requirements: Bright or indirect light

Growing up, we always had a spider plant in our house.  They are bright, cheerful, and easy to grow.  Any house has a spot for one, and they are so tough!  One interesting fact about spider plants is that they are a natural air purifier.  Now if that doesn’t make you want to stick one in every room in your house, I don’t know what will!

Requirements: Bright direct light

Who doesn’t love succulents?!  These waxy plants come in all shapes and sizes, and are all relatively easy to keep.  My personal favourite are Lithops aka “living rocks”, just because they are so interesting.  Yep, they look just like a rocks and pebbles!  Succulents are also very on-trend right now, so the plants are easy to find and there is a lot of Pinterest inspiration to help integrate them into your home.

Aloe Vera Plant
Requirements: Bright direct light

While technically a succulent, I put the Aloe Vera plant in its own category because I felt it needed to be recognized.  You never really fully appreciate an aloe plant until you get a sunburn!  I love that I can break off a leaf and use the soothing gel to cool my skin.  I also love the look of this plant because the bright green spiky foliage will brighten up any space!

Zamioculcas Zamifolia (ZZ Plant)
Requirements: Low light

Two words: low maintenance!  If you have a busy schedule and a space with very little natural light, then this houseplant is for you.  I have a few of these in my home, and I water them only a few times per year.  Yes, you read that right!  I water them maybe 4-5 times.  This is one of those plants that will grow best if you ignore it.  You can count on it to be lush, green, and full of life 12 months of the year.  I can’t recommend this plant enough!

Hoya Plant
Requirements: Indirect light

This plant is definitely not a high trend plant at the moment, but I think you will see them making a comeback soon!  If anyone grew up with a vine growing on top of a cupboard in their house, odds are it was a Hoya plant.  This pick has major sentimental value to us.  The Hoya plant that my grandmother, mom, sister and I all have comes from a plant that belonged to my great Aunt.  It was a gift on her wedding day, and now we all have a piece of that plant growing in our homes.  How special is that?  This plant is also impossible to kill.  They just continue to hang around, lush green leaves and all, with very little needed care!  This plant has major vintage, eclectic and bohemian vibes… it is sure to suit all home styles!

Happy Houseplanting!

We hope you enjoyed our top 5 houseplant picks!  The winter months can be cold and dull… sometimes all it takes is a new plant to brighten things up!

Making an Arrangement with Greens

By | Christmas

If you haven’t had a chance to attend one of our seminars or workshops on Christmas arrangements, we thought we would show you right here on our website! This will be a brief overview of how to put together an outdoor arrangement using fresh cut greens!

It can be overwhelming to choose your greens for arrangements – but we can help! You will soon find out that this DIY project will be so much fun! This is a simple arrangement using only 4 types of greens and some accessories! We used pine, Ontario cedar, boxwood and BC cedar, as well as some artificial berries and pinecones!

First, start with your container. You can make your arrangement right in your flowerpot, or you can create an insert, like we did here. Make sure you have some nice, moist soil!

The green we started with was pine. This makes a great base for your arrangement. The pine sets the overall height and width of the arrangement, and gives a great starting point to build on.

Next we added the Ontario cedar. We cut these pieces and added them throughout the arrangement. This gives great dimension and colour contrast against the pine.

After this, we added the boxwood. You don’t need a lot, just enough to fill in gaps and spaces within the arrangement, and its dark glossy leaves add so much interest!

Finally, we integrated the BC cedar. This green is so light and feathery, and will wisp through your arrangement beautifully! You really cannot skip using BC cedar! We put a few pieces throughout, and we focused it as a skirt around the arrangement. You’ll notice it also makes a great disguise to cover the pot that was inserted into this old tree stump!

Once you are happy with your greenery, you can add the final touches! In this arrangement we added these giant frosted pinecones and some weatherproof berries. You can go all out with this and add birch poles, curly willow, dogwood, hydrangea branches, Christmas ornaments, and more!

Creating these arrangements can be intimidating to start – however once you begin, you will see how fun they are to make and how nicely they come together.

We hope you are inspired to get some fresh cut greens and start creating!

Want our help?

If you need some guidance, stop by and we can help you!  Or, if you want to attend one of our workshops to create some Christmas decor, you can click here to register for our Sleigh Workshop!

Make Your Own Applesauce

By | Apple

Since so many of our customers ask, we thought we’d share with you how to make your own applesauce. It is so easy, and once you start making it yourself, you won’t go back to buying it ever again!  Our applesauce only has one ingredient in it – apples!  The nice thing about making your own applesauce is that each batch can have so much flavour variation; depending on which varieties you choose. The Marlin family secret tip: mix at least 2 apple varieties! Throughout the fall months as different apple varieties become available, you can experiment to find your favourite combination.  Did you know that we grow over 30 varieties of apples?  That’s a lot of applesauce flavours!

This batch of applesauce was made with our favourite combo – McIntosh and Cortland.  McIntosh apples have a wonderful tart flavour that cooks down to the perfect soft texture, while Cortland apples add a touch of sweetness and hold their shape when cooked.

Let’s get into the fun stuff now!

First start by peeling your apples (we use 8-10 medium sized apples for one batch of applesauce).  You can use a regular plain ol’ knife like we use, or you can use an apple peeler. Whatever gets the job done for you!

Next, chop up the apples and discard the core.  You can cut into big pieces or little pieces, depending on how chunky you’d like your applesauce.

Once your apples are chopped, toss them into a saucepan and add a bit of water – just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. If you add too much water, it can make your applesauce very runny. It’s better to add just a little bit now, and add more as needed.

Next, cover the saucepan and put it on the stove over medium-high heat. Keep an eye on it! Once the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium-low.  Let it cook and bubble, and you will start to see the apples softening up and breaking down. Make sure to stir it a few times while it’s cooking! It should take about 15 minutes –  but you can cook it less for a chunkier sauce, or cook it longer for a smoother sauce.

And that’s it! You’re done! We love the taste of just the apples – especially when mixing different varieties. However if you like a little cinnamon and sugar added to your applesauce, you can add it while the apples are cooking.

Once the applesauce is finished, store it in a glass container in the fridge, and eat it up within a few days. It makes the perfect snack, topping, condiment, side dish, baby food or baking ingredient! It is so versatile!

We hope you enjoy and are inspired to take some fresh, local apples and make your own applesauce!  Need help choosing your varieties?  We can help you pick the right flavour and texture combination for your applesauce!



By | Apple, Garden Centre

Welcome to our new website!

We’ve been working hard over the past few months to update our site to make it a space where you can get up-to-date info, see what we are up to, learn about all things garden and to experience life on the farm! Feel free to look around…learn about our history and read through our timeline in the About section, see what apple varieties we grow in our orchard in our Grow section, and browse our Calendar of Events where you can sign up for workshops. Another feature of our new site is that you now have the ability to shop! Our gift cards have always been a favourite gift idea and can now be purchased on our website.

Take some time to read through and enjoy our new space! We always love chatting, laughing and interacting with our customers, so we hope our website can be an extension of that!

Thanks for stopping by!