The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Organic apple pest and disease control

Honeycrisp appleTo hear Michael Phillips write about it, you would think that apple trees are fortunate to make it through the year, let alone set fruit.  He fights a slew of insect pests along with fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases, struggling to end up with a harvest of fruits pretty enough to sell to his customers.

I feel lucky to be a homesteader who cares mostly about taste.  Still, I plan to take some of his preventative advice to heart.  We're slowly cutting down nearby cedar trees and would do the same if we had nearby crabapples or hawthorns since all three serve as alternate hosts for apple diseases.

Once our trees are bearing, we'll rake up their leaves in the fall and compost them since fallen apple trees can innoculate the tree with diseases the next year if left in place.  While thinning our hypothetical fruits, we'll be careful to remove insect-damaged apples and will also rake up June-dropped fruits to feed to our chickens.  Old timey apple farmers used to run poultry and swine under their trees during that period --- maybe we'll have pigs by then and can work something out.

For now, though, we're in that golden period before the apple trees mature when we can fantasize that our fruits won't fall prey to any diseases or pests.  I'll dream while I can, and remember The Apple Grower for organic tips when the time comes.

Don't miss our homemade chicken waterer.

This post is part of our Growing Organic Apples lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Three years ago, I read about the use of Tanglefoot (it's like a super thick and sticky vaseline) to trap the flies that deposit eggs within young apples. I could not find it locally, so I went online and purchased a can of it and three plastic red apples, in a set. I followed the instructions and spread the Tanglefoot on the apples and hung them near the apple trees that had not yet set fruit. As the season went on, more and more flies that infest apples had stuck to the Tanglefoot and died there. They did not attract honeybees or beneficial insects. The Tanglefoot reduced the infestation of the apples considerably. The plastic apples are re-usable year to year. It is necessary to scrape off the old Tanglefoot and decayed flies (be sure to use throw away vinyl or rubber gloves and a disposable knife or scraping tool, since it is very difficult to clean anything that gets Tanglefoot on it), and reapply new Tanglefoot each year. This year I discovered that I could order the Tanglefoot alone from my local hardware store. (Buy local!)
Comment by Joanna Brown Sat May 19 23:55:46 2012
Joanna --- Thanks for sharing! Our trees are still too young for us to worry over pests in the apple fruits. I'm looking forward to that day and will stop back by your comment then. :-)
Comment by anna Sun May 20 14:33:43 2012

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