If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times….you can’t grow fruit trees organically. Well, as an organic gardener, I beg to differ. While it’s not a perfect system, because there isn’t one, my simple 3-step plan will explain and demonstrate how to successfully grow fruit trees organically!
Fruit trees can be particularly difficult to grow without chemicals, especially in a state like Ohio, where the moisture and humidity can lead to a host of problems…moisture in the soil will attract all kinds of pests that would love to eat your fruit! We also deal with fungus on the leaves, but don’t worry, we’ve got some answers for you!
But with just a few simple steps, you can outsmart the pests and disease!
There are few things more defeating than to watch beautiful fruit begin to ripen on your fruit trees at home, only to see the bugs and birds completely destroy them.
If you’re like me, I’m simply not willing to spray toxic chemicals on my fruit trees, it’s a non-negotiable.
However, I use these 3-Step method for growing organic fruit trees at home and let me tell you, it works!
Step 1 – Stop Crawling Bugs
First, I deal with bugs and ants that crawl up the tree from the ground. I would guess that these bugs account for about 50% of my pest issue.
Tree Tanglefoot will snag any crawling insect that tried to make it up your tree, immediately and without chemicals.
Simply wrap and tie these strips to the bottom of your tree trunk, then apply the sticky barrier gel.
This process takes a little time, but will totally be worth it!
Bugs will not survive this sticky tape.
Their legs will get stuck and they will die.
For some added insurance, you can sprinkle some diatomaceous earth around the base of your trees as well!
Be sure to keep the area around your fruit trees trimmed, otherwise you are just providing a “bridge” for insects to climb. I use this little cordless hand trimmer and I totally LOVE it!
Step 2 – Make a Non-Toxic Bug Spray
The second step is to mix up a non-toxic spray to use on your fruit and leaves.
The theory of using a natural spray for your trees is not to kill pests, but to deter them.
Neem oil has been around for a long time, and works very well to keep bugs at bay. Bugs HATE it.
Neem oil, used as a pesticide, is said to control over 200 species of insect and over 15 types of fungus!
The bummer part about being organic is that you will need to re-apply every time it rains.
But that’s a small price to pay for organic fruit!!
I use a large pump sprayer for this, but not to big to carry around with you as you spray. You will also need a gentle soap to help the Neem oil cling to the leaves.
Spray the fruit and leaves well, especially the underside of leaves. Don’t forget to spray the trunk!
Don’t soak it down, but make sure everything gets sprayed and has time to dry. I start this spray soon after the petals fall off the blooms.
Non-toxic Bug Spray Recipe for Fruit Trees
1 gallon water
4-6 teaspoons of Neem oil
1-2 teaspoons of liquid Castile soap
Step 3 – Control Birds and Flying Bugs
The third step is to control birds from eating your fruit.
Birds and flying bugs are probably my greatest battle for organic fruit, but once again, they can easily be controlled with mesh tree covers.
It takes care of the problem almost immediately!
Put the tree covers on once the tree’s blossoms have been pollinated and fall away.
Then, simply unzip your cover to harvest!
Finally, plant a “fruit tree guild” around your newly planted trees.
A “guild” is like a family of beneficial plants that aid in the health and growth of the tree.
Some plants of the guild repel pests, others attract pollinators and yet others bring nitrogen to the roots of the tree!
By planting a fruit tree guild, you will have healthier and more productive trees and who doesn’t want that??
Using this organic method requires a little more work, but having organic fruit to eat and brag about is totally worth it!