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Location: Heyburn Idaho
Posted: Aug/22/2008 5:59 PM PST
First Try proper pruning. Did you know, that other than spraying. Proper pruning is the best way to control death and disease in trees and shrubs. Also when pruned properly and kept healthy, your trees can actually defend themselves from bugs. I know this sounds crazy, but when a tree is kept healthy it will naturally create an enzyme or a chemical inside itself that will stop bugs from eating, laying eggs, nesting or even inhabiting that tree. These chemicals will act as an insect repellent of sort. On the other hand a tree that has become stressed, for whatever reason (lack of pruning, spraying, watering etc.) These trees can and will actually attract bugs.
My Father has a chemical free, fruit orchard of about twelve to fifteen semi-dwarf trees and six different fruits. Rarely will a single apple have worms,or a leaf have aphids,No black spot,or mildew. This is the result of a few fairly simple steps. However don't be deceived no tree can be kept healthy with out effort put in. these steps are as follows.
1. Proper pruning, and continued pruning throughout the year. removing unwanted branches, weak limbs, and thinning of fruit to achieve best size and taste as well as relieving weight from branches to prevent stress and damage.
2. No matter how healthy you think your fruit trees are, give them a good shot of fertilizer anyway. Applying fruit tree fertilizer spikes in early spring,mid summer, and early fall. will keep your trees growing strong throughout the year. They are also easy to apply. If you would rather choose an organic method, my Father makes a two foot tall ring of pig manure around each tree.Note: this second option does not add attraction to your landscape.
3. Watering. Any fruit tree that is producing needs extra water. Most fruits are 40% to 92% water so don't rely on your sprinklers to properly water your fruit trees.water from sprinklers rarely soaks in more than a couple inches.If your fruit tree is required to compete with grass or other plants for water. Then the majority of that trees energy will be put to surviving rather than producing fruit. Now days drip systems are fairly inexpensive, and they can not be out performed when properly installed and operated.
4. Lastly tie a few bottles or milk jugs to branches inside your tree. Again not the best for landscape attraction, but this does work. Cut two to three holes up high on the sides of the bottle or jug. next tie two or three jugs to limbs, preferably in side crown of the tree, to some what hide the jugs. In a separate jug or mixing bowl combine two parts sugar, one part vinegar, three parts water. Mix well, then pour several cups of mixture into hanging jugs in trees. Again I know this sounds a bit like voodoo. But this will work, to catch remaining bugs that were missed from steps 1 through 3.
After a couple of years maintaining your trees, you will actually be amazed how simple it is to keep them healthy, and the fruit spectacular.
Best of luck, Jared. T-N-J.
Posted: Sep/02/2008 5:23 AM PST
Informative post...thanks. I tell all my friends to cut the center out of their ailing apple trees. We had about 10 various apple trees when I was a kid. Back then, we sprayed (hey..it was the 70's) and got amazing apples.
I've tried that bug mix in my barns for flies...back when I had animals. Boy,did it kill flies!
Location: beautiful southern appalachians
Posted: Sep/02/2008 7:30 AM PST
Wow, tnj, great post.