Organic Gardening – Fruit Trees
There is a growing trend for organic gardening throughout the world. Customers are now looking at the ways their food is grown and what foreign agents are used to encourage good crops. With the demand for food growing exponentially with an expanding world population sprays, fertilizers and chemical insecticides had become a major problem in food production. Man has created this problem with his demands although nature has its own pest control measures. This article is designed to help you growyour own fruit trees organically.
To be an organic gardener is your way of improving soil conditions to ensure the best growing conditions for your plants. Nature provides some excellent pest control and it is the organic gardener’s role to encourage wildlife into the garden and thereby encourage pollination and cut down on the number of pests in the garden. By using simple measures such as sympathetic planting, providing homes for birds and insects and also installing a small pond or water feature you can increase then beneficial visitors.
Choosing a Fruit Tree
If you purchase your trees from local suppliers they will have a better idea of what will grow well in your area. Check they use organic methods themselves and thereby encourage the practice locally.
Use plenty of organic compost in the soil within the hole you have dug for your tree. You can use garden compost produced by yourselves or buy some in and you can use well-rotted manure that will also improve the soil. If you are in a brewing area try to obtain spent hops, as they are ideal to improve the soil but whatever you use ensure it is well rotted.
Use a sulfur-horticultural spray in spring, before the leaf buds are open and this will protect your tree from dormant fungus spores and bacteria. Sulfur is a natural substance and the oil rids the tree of any insect eggs that have survived over winter.
You should also use a horticultural oil and water mixture in the summer months when pests appear but omit the sulfur. As an organic fertiliser try creating your own by using equal amounts of beer, ammonia and Epsom salts.
The basic idea of companion planting is to encourage beneficial insects such as bees so they pollinate your fruit trees. Companion planting can also be used to dissuade pests from coming near your trees. Lavender bushes are excellent at attracting bees, as are plants that grow naturally in your area. Bees travel vast distances to gather nectar so make it easy for them by planting flowers that they are attracted to. The larger the area you can plant the better it will be for your trees. Chives are ideal to deter scab and aphids and daisy-like flowers attract hoverflies and their larvae prey on aphids. Other plants such as the poach-egg plant and marigolds are also very effective. As a guide, when it is a nice day take a walk around the garden centre and see which plants are attracting the bees. Any flowering plant that produce seeds that birds enjoy will help control insects and the obvious one is the sunflower which is not only striking in appearance but produced thousands of seeds.
There is a whole range of predators for killing off garden pests and it is possible to buy them from specialist web sites and companies. However, it is usually best to encourage local predators to do the work for you.
Some of the most effective predators for citrus crops is the Tachinid flies who larvae parasitize other insects especially caterpillars. The next one has a very long Latin name Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, a native Australian insect that controls mealy bugs. Hoverflies, lacewings and ladybirds will attack and eat aphids but the lacewing larvae will eat practically any pest as they develop.
There are good sides and bad sides to encouraging birds into your garden because; although they can eat vast numbers of caterpillars, wasps and aphids they also have a liking for fruit. The question you have to ask yourself is whether you prefer your plants being eaten alive by pests, your fruit becoming grub infested or whether you prefer to have a better crop and share with the birds which are doing all the hard work for you. When you think about it there will always be some loss or wastage of fruit so allow your friends to gain some benefit from them. If you find your buds or fruit are being devastated by birds then you can protect them with suitable netting but make sure this is not going to cause birds to become trapped within the mesh.
There are some biological controls available on the market but using them will depend on your point of view. Some prefer to accept some losses to their yield rather than use any form of biological control whereas others believe they are part of organic gardening.
For example a bacterium that will kill caterpillars by stopping caterpillars from eating is available and goes under the terrible name of Bacillus thuringiensis. As with all things over use of these agents will eventually lead to the insects developing a resistance to them so use carefully.
Finally just a quick word about peat. Over the centuries peat has been used as a fuel for fires in some parts of the world and it has also been raided in later years to improve the soil in gardens. Peat bogs have been decimated over time and with it the natural habit for a number of birds, insects and mammals. It is your duty as a responsible garden to avoid using peat wherever possible. There are other products on the market that have the same properties as peat as a soil enhancer. Peat is just rotting vegetation that has been around for thousands even millions of years and we can use it all within a few generations. There is always room in even the smallest of gardens to generate your own compost so recycle your waste rather than steal from nature.