A bit of mollycodling for the fruit trees

Have you noticed the days lengthening? It’s no warmer, but a bit lighter. The skies feel less enveloping, enclosing. Steiner would probably talk about deep, internal, earthly winter workings – the soil forces – giving way to the more atmospheric, cosmic influences. The fruit trees are feeling something, anyway. Lyn and I applied the first curly leaf spray this week to the budding stone fruit.

July is timely for attending to your fruit trees. See the July Notes for more details on what to else to do in the garden and when (including a Weather Event warning from forecaster extraodinaire Brian Keats).

Codling Moth is a bugbear for most apple and pear growers. Despite our good bug mixes and pheremone traps, we still had grubs and moths in some apple trees last year (Q – are some heritage apple varieties more prone than others?). In this part of the world, the moth will have three life cycles each season, starting at flowering time, with peak numbers around December. They’re now overwintering in cocoons under the the soil, in leaf litter or mulch, or under the bark on trunks and branches. You can still limit damage by applying sticky bands on the trees, to prevent the pupating female moths clambering/fluttering upwards to the flowers where they’ll lay eggs near the developing fruit. The resulting grubs bore through the fruit, gorge and grow, then burrow out again, ready to pupate, and mate, and lay more eggs …

In spring, they’ll pupate quickly and the moths hatch out. That’s when the pheremone traps and parasitic wasps, corrugated cardboard around the trunk, and other methods help. Chooks are great codling moth predators (if you can keep them from eating your veges and being eaten by foxes or dogs). Wormwood, southernwood, tansy and lemonbalm are also said to be good for repelling the insects. See some more info on controlling codling moth from Green Harvest’s excellent organic pest control website. So, clearing – and burning – any harbour (and hopefully cocoons) from underneath trees,  including brushing/scraping any loose bark that they might be under, and applying sticky barrier glue to trunks and branches can also be July jobs.

See you in the garden, or at the Produce Exchange (Sat 4th), or our Garden get together (Sun 26th – note date change).

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