This is my favorite time of year in Ohio. The leaves put on a glorious show, the sun seems to shine a little oranger (is that a real word?) and the air smells a little sweeter.
The best part for me is that I get to pick my fruit trees. Fruit trees are a great example of delayed reward: You prune in the bitter cold of February, you start spraying dormant oil before the buds even form to prevent bugs. Then you wait…
Besides the perverse pleasure of looking forward to delayed rewards, we grow our own fruit to avoid all the pesticides commercial fruit growers use. One respected website says, “Most pesticides are poisonous to humans and animals, but when properly used they are not harmful.” Somehow, that’s not too comforting!
The cornerstone of our method is to spray twice with Dormant Oil in the spring. But, I haven’t been able to get worm-free fruit without resorting to some heavy duty chemicals about one or two times. We’ve found if we use them at just the right time of the year, we can go pesticide-free the rest of the year and only have about half our apples come back wormy.
“Half wormy” doesn’t meet grocery store standards. But, at least I know where my fruit came from. It hasn’t seen chemicals in at least two months (which is several times the safety margin for “proper use”). Best of all, my fruit isn’t coated with artificial wax or shellac (yum!). (Commercial growers coat their fruit with wax to “seal in the freshness”. My experience is that it’s very hard to remove and I worry that it also seals in dirt left after improper washing and any chemical residues.)
I’d love to hear your ideas on stopping fruit worms without resorting to chemical pesticides.
Galen Lehman, Lehman’s