Our east coast property has 2 ancient apple trees, one Mac and one Russet, that we are trying to bring back. We are organic gardeners for the vegetable plot and I would like to go the all-natural route with these trees, too. All my reading suggests "go slow". They were part of a big orchard at one point and are still producing small mis-shapen fruit.
Last fall we did the first pruning and this fall we will do a full top crop and start to shape them into vases, opening out the centres. We also did some basic fertilizing, though I haven't done the requisite removing of grass from 8-feet around the base that one book says is necessary.
Anybody ever been successful with revitalizing apple trees? is this total removal of ground cover essential? is this even doable without the pesticides and anti-fungals the books seem to think are useful in such revivals?