People may not be familiar with the ‘Monty’s Surprise’ apple, but this old variety, discovered a few decades ago, has a number of wonderful advantages.
It’s relatively resistant to diseases and pests, it has the highest levels of quercetin flavonoids as well as high levels of procyanidins in the chemical analysis, which are anti-cancer compounds.
People can also use Monty’s surprise as a tangy cooking apple. From mid-April onwards, when the fruit ripens further, it becomes an eating apple. Tastes great!
The tree itself can be grafted on dwarfing root stock – it has a habit of growing fast and furiously, so on dwarfing rootstock it’ll go somewhat lower and more manageable; yet it still is a vigorous grower that produces lots of upright branches.
It is important to realise that this variety tends to bear its fruit on the young, new wood (as opposed to the typical apple fruiting spurs! So correct pruning is important.
Firstly, take out the ventral leader that grows skyward. Try to aim for a low-growing tree with horizontal branches, basically like the “vase method” of pruning: creating a framework of 4 or 5 main branches that create that “vase” under about 45 degree angle. The young fruit-bearing branches then come off the leaders more or less horizontally.
Some people advocate the use of sturdy string to weigh down branches that want to grow upwards: make them go outwards and keep them in that position for a year or so, until they got the message to grow “outwards”, rather than “upwards”.