Bugs are an important part of the ecosystem, and they play a crucial role in our gardens and yards. However, that doesn’t mean we want them on every one of our plants. In fact, bugs can sometimes do quite a bit of damage to the flora we work hard to cultivate.
A prime example of vulnerable greenery is homegrown fruit trees. Bugs love devouring fresh, ripe fruit on the branch. You might watch an apple grow gradually to perfection for a month, only to find it eaten from within before you get to enjoy it. Although there's no perfect preventative method, there are some simple ways to keep bugs at bay, so you can reap the literal fruits of your labors.
Healthy Plants Keep Bugs Away
Your first line of defense in keeping fruit trees insect-free is to pick your plants with care. When purchasing your future snack provider from a nursery, check it carefully for bugs and insect eggs. Inspect the leaves and stems from all angles for bumps or discoloration, and gauge the thickness of the stems and color of the leaves to get a sense of the plant's overall strength.
Grow Trees in the Right Conditions
Choose species native or well adapted to your region to give your fruiting friends their best chance at a healthy life. Then make sure you set them up for success with ideal growing conditions. Trees nurtured in fertile, well-drained soil will have the natural tools they need to resist pests. Trees that get little sun or the wrong amount of water will become more vulnerable to infestation.
Keep Trees Tidy
The better you maintain your fruit trees, the fewer insect invasions they will have to suffer. Always remove fallen fruits from the area around the base of your tree. Keep the nearby grass well trimmed, and rake any leaves or debris away to discourage creepy crawly communities from developing.
Use Chemical Sprays
Certain fruit trees require chemical sprays to keep harmful insects away. This may include occasional dormant oil spraying in the winter and more frequent treatments during the growing season. This approach takes consistent work, but the payoff can be significant, especially if you're hoping to produce a high volume of fruit. These sprays are typically quite effective, if you have the time and energy to apply them. If you're hesitant to bring chemicals into your yard, consider reaching for a homemade alternative.
Install Insect Blockers
Make it hard for bugs to get to the leaves and blooms of a tree by blocking their path. Copper bands around a tree trunk can provide a subtle electrical charge when snails or other insects attempt to pass.
Prune Your Tree Frequently
Well pruned fruit trees are less likely to be riddled with bugs and pests. Thin out the tree and cut superfluous branches, taking care to get rid of diseased or damaged limbs. It’s also important to prune away branches that cross over each other. This habit promotes healthy growth and improves air circulation through the tree, making it less welcoming to hungry invaders.
Welcome Birds to Your Garden
One of the best ways to naturally control your insect population is by inviting feathered friends to take up residence nearby, or at least making your yard a popular location for these avid bug consumers. World avian populations have declined sharply in recent years. Help reverse that trend by creating a safe space for them to enjoy. They'll return the favor by gobbling up the competition for your carefully cultivated fruit.
A worm crawling out of a freshly picked apple is a classic image, but it's not something most of us want to see in real life. Use the above-listed tips and you’ll harvest insect-free fruit all summer long.