Now that the weather has cooled, you may look out your backyard window and relive all those wonderful memories you had this summer…. hanging out with friends, watching the kids squirt the hose on themselves making huge mud puddles, maybe even a barbeque or two. Isn’t amazing how ANYTHING cooked over coals outside just tastes better. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, your backyard. Yes, it is a delightful place to truly live life to the full, but does it need a rest. Kind of, but not yet. There is still one or two more thing you need to do for your trees before you lock up your garden gear for the winter. Let me explain.
Now that the walkways are all swept, the patio furniture covered in plastic, the kid’s toys tucked away for the season and the grass mowed that last time, what about your fruit trees? They will need just a little bit of attention before you tuck them into bed for the winter. You may be tempted, once the cold weather finally turns the leaves a rainbow of colors, to allow the leaves to carpet the ground with a splash of color, nature painting YOU a picture to enjoy….but don’t, because underneath these hues of yellow and gold and red and every other hue of color Crayola hasn’t invented yet lurks the enemy, yes the enemy is hiding in plain sight under those leaves. What I’m talking about is aphids, scale, maybe a thrip or two. Throw in a spider mite and you have a regular party, ALL these guys living it up under that canopy of leaves on the ground that you don’t have the heart to rake up.
First on your list is to rake. Make the ground under your deciduous fruit trees super clean. This way when the first blast of winter comes, all those critters have no place to hide and stay warm and they will be gone. Now a few hardy souls (the bugs) may hold on and find a way to hibernate over the winter up on the tree itself. What to do? Spray them and they’re gone of course, but these are my FRUIT trees you say! How can I spray what will eventually be my dinner? Problem solved once again…. spray oil will be your secret weapon, so YOU win, and the critters lose and your fruit trees are as good as gold. You do this in the winter when the trees are dormant. Check with your local nursery professional for specifics on timing of spray application.
Don’t panic when I say oil, because the type of oil I mention is like baby oil, working by smothering any overwintering pests, so its GREEN way to keep your fruit trees super healthy. The critters that are trying to overwinter on your trees soon can’t breathe and their done. Kaput. Gone. Suffocated and NOT poisoned. Isn’t that cool? For those with peaches or nectarines, there is a special issue waiting just for you (don’t you feel special), and that is what they call ‘Peach Leaf Curl’. As it sounds, the leaves emerge in the spring curled and weird looking. Like the spray oil for bugs, there is a GREEN alternative for you too, and that is Liquid Copper; as it sounds, its nothing but copper, just like element found in nature. Yes, follow label directions and keep kids and pets away from the trees until the spray is dry, but you will have NO lingering issues or worries so eat up!
And yes, spring will come again, and your trees will be just plain beautiful, lots of gorgeous foliage, colorful blossoms and soon the fruit again. Nice, isn’t it?