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Low-work fruit tree pest and disease treatment

Apple burr knotAs I mentioned in my last post, Gene Logsdon's philosophy on dealing with pests and diseases is much less hard-core than Michael Phillips' since the former is only growing food for his own table.  In general, Logsdon believes that as long as you can keep your fruit trees alive, all other problems are cosmetic and can be treated or not as you choose.

So how does Logsdon deal with pests and diseases?  He begins his trouble-shooting by choosing resistant varieties (which I listed previously), then moves on to low-key preventatives.  For fire-blight prevention, he recommends keeping nitrogen levels low, perhaps feeding your trees only with a mulch of leaves, cardboard, old hay, straw, manure, tobacco stems, grass clippings, or clover.  Meanwhile, he minds phosphorus levels as well since too much of this nutrient will suppress mycorrhizal fungi, which are particularly essential for healthy peaches.  Finally, Logsdon strives to keep problematic fungi in check by ventilating with summer breezes.

One of our readers sent me an email (with the photo above) a couple of weeks ago mentioning how a woodpecker came by to deal with the borers that moved into his apple burr knots, and that turns out to be Logsdon's solution for codling moth larvae as well.  One study showed that if you allow natural woodland to grow up adjacent to your orchard, woodpeckers can eat up to 52% of overwintering codling moth larvae.  Meanwhile, brush piles attract other beneficial birds, wild places attract predatory insects, and even the lightning bug larvae living in unsprayed lawns will eat slugs and snails.  Maybe that's why Mark and I have fewer non-fungal issues than I would expect --- because our core homestead is surrounded by acres of natural forest?

Learn to keep bugs at bayThis post is part of our Organic Orcharding lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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