Originally Posted on February 5, 2013
Deciduous Fruit Tree Care with Tips from Organic Fruit Grower Carl Rosato
In our gardens we're working on pruning our deciduous fruit trees. We're also planting bare root fruit trees, grape vines, strawberries, and berry canes. Using our Valley Oak Tool Co. broadfork to loosen the soil makes planting much easier. We’re also keeping an eye on diseases and insect pests. Cleaning up plant debris around your deciduous fruit trees is a great way to avoid hosting overwintering pests and diseases. Controlling codling moth, which is a pest in apples and pears (and plums and walnuts in California), relies on good sanitation. Raking debris from under the trees, making sure to pick up old fruit and other matter can help to disrupt the pupae. Gardeners who use chickens in the garden can put them to work under the trees to scratch around looking for good things to eat. They’ll likely scratch up slug eggs, which should help lower your slug population too!
Disinfecting your pruning tools will also go far to avoid contaminating healthy trees with diseases such as fire blight. Carl Rosato, our contact at Woodleaf Farm, suggests submerging your pruner's blades in either a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water), or isopropyl alcohol. When pruning trees with fireblight be sure to cut at least six inches below the infected area, and submerge your pruning blades in the disinfectant solution between each and every cut.
Carl also had some advice about helping with other insect pests. He keeps swaths of various flowering plants around his farm to encourage habitat for beneficial insects. The greater the variety in flower and insect life will go far to help keep pests in check. Carl said he no longer has any problems with peach borers since he’s implemented this approach!