PEST CONTROL – or, That Really Important Task You Are Definitely Going To Do This Year
If you are reading this newsletter, you love fruit trees. Maybe you love pruning them (as I do), grafting new varieties to them (that’s pretty fun, too), watering and weeding and waiting for the harvest of beautiful fruit you grew yourself.
But then that beautiful fruit thing doesn’t happen. The apples and pears are full of worms again. Aargh!
You are not alone. If you are growing apples in Seattle, your chance of having at least one kind of worms in your apples is nearly 100%. Asian pears will soon be as bad. I’ve had people tell me they are ready to cut down their tree in disgust. I say NOOOOOOO.
Here’s the thing. City Fruit has been netting apple trees since 2015. That same year our volunteers put baggies on 17,000 apples and pears. We know the ins and outs, pros and cons of bagging apples with paper baggies, nylon footies, and netting with a variety of mesh sizes. We’ve netted trees from under 5’ to over 20’. We can help you make it work. We can certainly get your fruit quality to be much improved, and if you follow all of the rules early enough in the season, you can expect nearly perfect fruit. All without chemicals or sprays.
Part of my new job is to provide education and resources for you to grow pest damage-free fruit. In April I’ll be conducting free workshops around the city, will be keeping our Save Seattle’s Apples web page updated, and am available for tree assessments through City Fruit’s Tree Care Service program. Plus you can always email me with questions.
If you are going the paper baggie or nylon footie route, I salute you. I put in my time over the years covering literally thousands of apples with paper baggies. It does work. The supplies are free – watch for them in local garden centers in late April. It’s a Zen sort of way to connect with your fruit tree.
Netting involves an investment in the net. The nets last a minimum of 6 years. If you put on the net yourself you’ll need maybe a friend or two, a few bamboo poles and a bicycle inner tube (free from bike shops.) City Fruit has bamboo poles, tennis balls, and inner tubes if you can’t locate them.
All of City Fruit’s pest control information is on the Save Seattle’s Apples website. We keep this site current with any changes including who is selling netting, who can help you install it, and more.
You can also find this by going to cityfruit.org – Fruit Tree Care – Save Seattle’s Apples
So let’s do it! Be one of the tree owners who say, “I netted my tree this year, and it actually worked!” Send me photos of your baggie- or net-covered tree. Tell me if you have problems or have bright ideas for getting the job done better. Then I’ll sit back and wait for you to share photos of beautiful, pest damage-free fruit as proof that it can be done. Looking forward to that time of year!
Did you miss our grafting workshop? There were a dozen newbie grafters and, I’ll be honest, we had a blast. 12 grafts on one sprawling crabapple tree, 16 grafts on a goofy underperforming espaliered apple near Dunn Lumber in Wallingford. And five grafts on a seedling cherry.
We used the “Grafting on a Shoestring Budget” method, which is bark grafting using tools and supplies that you probably have at home. In my opinion, this is the easiest type of grafting. Here is a video by City Fruit’s famous rogue grafter, orchard steward Patrick Mann showing you how it’s done:
A few years ago Patrick and I were each featured in videos created by Orchard People, an excellent fruit tree education organization based in Toronto.
Tree Assessments – Including a Plan for Pest Control
A tree assessment will give you a recipe for how to grow better fruit this year. Is your tree too big for netting? Did you have pollination, disease, or insect pest issues last year? Do you want help measuring or installing netting on your tree? Is it too late to prune? So many questions! We have answers.
Email Barb@cityfruit.org to schedule a Tree Care Services assessment.