How to Care For Your Organic Fruit Garden

This is all you need to know about your garden.

With many fruits, simply using good gardening practices, being alert to invading pests and diseases and dealing with them before they become major problems is all that is required. Be sure to read up on potential pests and diseases that may affect the fruits you are growing, so that you are aware of potential problems and can keep a sharp lookout for them.

The major tree fruits — apples, pears, cherries, etc. — do have a number of potentially serious problems, but by gardening organically, encouraging natural predators and using the most ecologically friendly control methods, these are rarely serious enough to cause concern. Apart from winter or early-spring spraying with dormant oil and lime sulfur to kill off overwintering egg masses and disease spores, a regular spray program is rarely needed. Unlike commercially produced fruit, which is sprayed on a regular basis from before the flower buds open until close to picking time, the actual fruit on an organic tree may not have to be sprayed at all.

By using lures, pheromone traps and possibly releasing some of the known parasitic insects, fruit trees can be kept almost free of the major pests. Occasional sprays of a copper- or sulfur-based fungicide may be needed to keep diseases in check, depending on the weather.

All gardeners come to accept a certain level of damage in their homegrown fruits. Similarly, an organically produced crop will not have the cosmetic perfection found in fruit purchased from a supermarket. There may be a small patch of scab on an apple, for example, which does not affect the taste, but you will know that the fruit is chemical-free and has been picked at the peak of ripeness and not been ripened in a transport truck on its way to the market. If you eat figs, you may have accidentally eaten this insect. 

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest