In our climate, apple trees are best planted in either the early spring or fall, when they are still young. A 4' whip, or central stem that has yet to branch, is a good and inexpensive way to start.
Apples like a sunny site with good drainage. If you want only one tree, make sure that it is self-pollinating. Otherwise, plant at least two trees, as they need one another for pollination.
Determine the expected height of the tree and plant the whips at least that far apart.
Once planted, cut back the tree to just above a bud to encourage low branching and make future harvesting easier. Water well and mulch a 3' circle around the tree, leaving 6" between the mulch and the trunk. As the tree grows, enlarge the mulch circle so that it reaches the outermost branches.
The timing of your first apple harvest is determined by the cultivar you choose. It is reasonable to expect 4 years before you can harvest your first fruits. Your patience and care will be rewarded.
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut in pieces
4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1/6 cup brandy
2 cups self-rising flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream, not chilled
1/8 cup granulated sugar
Melt butter in a wide heavy pot. Heat over moderate high heat until foam subsides; then sauté apples with sugar and zest, stirring until apples are slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
Transfer apples with a slotted spoon to a shallow baking pan.
Transfer all apple juices to a pot. Stir in preserves and brandy and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Pour mixture over apples.
Make topping and bake cobbler:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Pulse flour, sugar and salt in food processor just until blended. Add butter and pulse just until mixture resembles course meal.
Transfer to a large bowl and add chilled cream, stirring gently to form a dough. Knead dough 4 to 6 times with floured hands. Roll out dough 3/4-inch thick, flouring surface as needed, and cut out 6 to 7 rounds.
Arrange rounds on top of apples about 1/2 inch apart. Stir together yolk and unchilled cream and brush onto topping. Sprinkle sugar generously over biscuits. Bake until topping is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.