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Apple tree Help!

 
Willy Walker
Posts: 90
Location: Foot of the Mountain, Front Royal VA
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apple tree help!

For that matter, any fruit bearing tree.

Somehow I have the notion that fruit trees grown with the right intention and proper care can be excluded from the popular idea that they must be dripping in toxic spray practically all year or they are doomed! Yet finding a good source of information on the web is proving very difficult. I have found a few pieces here and there and a few books that may be beneficial yet I refrain from purchase as I’m still a tad skeptical.
I have temporarily located myself to a place that has a large apple orchard in the back yard in an county that celebrates the apple blossom with a festival. This should indicate that I live in a very applely area, most if not all major efforts follow the dripping nasty’ness method. (I really had no idea how horrible the blunt approach of apple production is until I lived next to an orchard)

At my current property (which I will be living fulltime ever so shortly) I plan on a small variety of fruit trees. Peaches, plums, apples, cherries. Approximately 20 to 30 trees total all grown with permaculture in mind interlaced throughout the property and mingled and mixed with various other growies. I do plan on selecting each spot with care, making sure to not group types as well as properly condition the previously wooded area to include a full year of cover cropping and lasagna mulching. I still have much needed learning to be had..

A real time example. My mother has an apple tree that is maybe 20 years old. It has been trimmed a time or two and caught on fire another time or two… The trimmings were most likely not 1/3 but probably an over trim. I think it is a red delicious variety, not sure of the way it got there or where it came from. Year after year she is disappointed with the bugs or premature falling apples. She luckily just gets upset and has never (or at least not regularly) reached for the bottle of toxic geck. Attached is a bad picture of the tree from the other day.

The apples that make it taste great and are of good size and shape!

Help, how can I better understand the care required for my own needs and what can I share with my mom to make this work? There are plenty of things I would do (that my mom does not do) but I would be reacting from my lessons and learnings from other growies and all would be trial and error. Meaning there is a lot for me to learn about fruit tree care!
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Kris schulenburg
Posts: 115
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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In the letters to the editor of Acres magazine a reader recommended "Japanese fruit bags" among other things. Which is cutting the bottom corners of a sandwich bag and placing it over the apples when they are about 1'' diameter. I will try some next year on some that are with in reach. Sounds labor intensive but doable for a bushel or two.
I have a lot of different plants with my trees and ducks spent the winter in the orchard (had hoped they would eat a lot of the bugs) but my fruit still is full of borers.
It might be worth a Google search.
 
Willy Walker
Posts: 90
Location: Foot of the Mountain, Front Royal VA
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I have read about the fruit bags. doesn't quite seem pratical. Although it is a trick that I do plan to keep in my back pocket for a few fruits.

I have a small issue keeping my posts short enough to maintain interests. I did leave out all of my findings from research. It doesn't seem like I found any real answers. Perhaps I will say compared to other avenues of research. Which is why I am posting here.

One thing I heard in a podcast was about the cow manure and clay mix to wrap around the trunk of the trees. That is also in my back pocket. 😎


Chickens are on my support team!
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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In my experience there is always a fruit drop, with some fruit left on the tree.

My across the board prescriptions are for soil health improvements, mulch, reducing competition from grass and choosing companion plants wisely, good orchard hygiene and encouraging beneficial insects and bird habitat.

Do you know what bugs are a concern?
 
Willy Walker
Posts: 90
Location: Foot of the Mountain, Front Royal VA
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I will ask my mom about the bad bugs. Snakes and birds are a plenty which are most likely causing a bug imbalance... It is not uncommon to find a large black snake in this tree, Didn't think about that before. Also as to soil health, there is a burn pit close by ~ 5 ft. That is most likely not good for the soil as that is an imbalance as well.

I have faith in the fact that tree health and understanding the tree and its needs are a better part of the solution. But telling someone this who wants help in simple words. Perhaps that is part of my fustration as this is my mom and I want her to know how to feel the tree.... What did I just say?

The better part of this issue is that as I learn how to help correct a bad situation I am better preparing for my skill set for my trees.




 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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Snakes and birds are friends to me, I am a big fan of predators. I am still improving my skill set too. I have some old apple trees that I've been rehabilitating, some success some not. We spray nothing and get a lot of apples. The cedar apple rust is my biggest pesky varmint.

One of my favorite permaculture principles is "Observe"
Look carefully at any damage and try to find the culprit. Take photos up close, make friends with the macro lens. And show us the photos
 
Ann Torrence
steward
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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Go to the library and check out either of Michael Phillips books on orcharding. I use both. The Holistic Orchard is a great resource for natural methods to control predators and maintain healthy trees.

June drop is normal for apples-they set more fruit than the tree can support. The drops need to be cleaned up to break certain pest lifecycles. With a rake if it's one tree, animals can do the job in a larger system. Phillips covers this in his book.
 
Adam Hoar
Posts: 43
Location: NH
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Ann Torrence wrote:Go to the library and check out either of Michael Phillips books on orcharding. I use both. The Holistic Orchard is a great resource for natural methods to control predators and maintain healthy trees.

June drop is normal for apples-they set more fruit than the tree can support. The drops need to be cleaned up to break certain pest lifecycles. With a rake if it's one tree, animals can do the job in a larger system. Phillips covers this in his book.


I will second Phillips for orchard help, I would also suggest checking out the video "Permaculture Orchard" Paul did a podcast on it as well but the Stephan is an amazing teacher.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 1992
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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As has been recommended definitely get the Michael Phillips book and read it all, twice or three times. The rust is an issue with your soil, not enough minerals available for the tree to activate its immune system fully. Sea-90 applied as a spray to the tree and sprinkled dry on the ground from two feet from the trunk all the way out to a foot beyond the drip line will get the needed minerals where they will do the most good. Compost, fully finished, used as a top dressing and applied every three months, all year long will help to bring the soil condition up to snuff. Do not worry about fruit drop, A tree holds onto only the fruit it can support to full ripeness, fruit is after all how it reproduces, so it will support all that it can for that purpose. Pruning is best done as minimally as possible and only after leaf drop has completed. Crossing branches, weak spot growth and suckers are the targets when pruning (the book (bible) covers this very well).

If you can't find Sea-90 locally, SeaAgri is the website.
 
Marianne Cicala
gardener
Posts: 660
Location: south central VA 7B
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You should consider a guild around the base of the tree, vs grass. There are plenty of "permaculture orchard" info here and yes to the suggested publications above. Rust or cedar rust is flat out just going to happen if there are a lot of cedars in the area; in southern VA, it's unavoidable. It won't harm your tree, and any "rust" polishes off the apples. Below is a piece I use a lot; hope it helps.
Good luck!
M
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Marianne Cicala
gardener
Posts: 660
Location: south central VA 7B
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Willy Walker wrote:
One thing I heard in a podcast was about the cow manure and clay mix to wrap around the trunk of the trees. That is also in my back pocket. 😎



In the late fall, we mix manure, clay & water into a slurry and paint the trunks of the trees. It does incredible things including keeping boring bugs away, feeds the tree, protects from sun bouncing off of snow which is hard on younger trunks. Totally am a fan.
 
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