When it comes to growing fruit organically, caring for fruit trees without chemical insecticides presents the most significant challenges. Fruit trees give dedicated organic gardeners the greatest rewards. Not only do you get a large crop of pesticide-free fruit, but you also get beautiful blossoms in spring.
Finding the right organic insecticide for fruit trees is essential for organic gardening methods. Chemical-free pesticides need to be strong enough to kill off aphids, thrips, weevils, and scale insects. But they cannot be so strong that they damage the plant. Also, because some fruit trees such as apple, pear, and cherry trees can grow to over 20 ft. (6 m), applying organic insecticides to all the tree parts can be difficult.
In this article, you will learn about the most effective organic insecticides suitable for fruit trees. You will also find helpful tips on how to grow fruit trees organically.
Why Grow Fruit Trees Using Organic Methods
The reason why many gardeners choose to grow organic fruit trees is to minimize their exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Pesticide residue is found on most commercially-grown fruit and vegetables. Also, spraying fruit trees can create some health problems if the insecticides are inhaled or ingested.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a list of the fruits containing the most pesticides. Among the “Dirty Dozen” are tree fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, and cherries.
Although the advice is to wash fresh produce thoroughly, doctors say that washing doesn’t always remove all pesticides.
How to Make Homemade Organic Pesticides for Fruit Trees
Using homemade organic insecticides for your fruit trees means you can enjoy fresh, juicy fruit straight from the tree. Pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides can help to control pest problems without affecting the tree.
How can you make your own organic pesticides at home to treat your fruit trees? Let’s look at some practical ways to get rid of pests naturally.
Neem oil Organic Pesticide
Neem oil is a natural oil with insecticidal properties that is great for killing aphids, mites, insects, and fungi. The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) reports that neem oil contains the compound azadirachtin, which is a naturally occurring pesticide. Azadirachtin acts as a repellent and also hinders the ability of pest insects to feed.
To make your own organic neem oil pesticide, this is what you should do:
- Mix 2 tablespoons of neem oil and 1 tablespoon of natural dish soap in 1 gallon (3.7 l) of warm water.
- Mix thoroughly and put in your garden sprayer.
- Apply the natural solution every 7 days to get rid of whiteflies, aphids, moth larvae, and spider mites.
Bacillus Thuringiensis is natural soil bacteria with insecticidal properties that help kill off larvae and caterpillars. Bacillus Thuringiensis works by affecting the insect’s digestive system causing them to die off.
To make your own organic Bacillus Thuringiensis Pesticide, this is what you should do:
- Mix one part of the appropriate Bacillus Thuringiensis strain to ten parts of water.
- Spray on your fruit trees weekly and after heavy rain.
When using Bacillus Thuringiensis for pest control on your fruit trees, there are several factors to consider.
- First, look for organically-certified Bacillus Thuringiensis strains.
- Second, different strains of Bacillus Thuringiensis are useful for different kinds of insects. So, check to find out what pests you have on your fruit trees.
- Third, use Bacillus Thuringiensis sprays in the evening for the best effect.
Garlic and Hot Pepper Natural Sprays for Fruit Trees
The repelling and irritating nature of garlic and hot pepper can help to control populations of pests on your fruit trees.
Some scientific studies suggest that garlic essential oil has both a lethal and repellent effect on certain insects and their larvae.
To make your own Organic Garlic Insecticide Spray, this is what you should do:
- Put the cloves (peeled) from one head of garlic and 4 hot chilies into a blender.
- Add 1 cup of water (235 ml) and puree the mixture until it is blended well.
- Add 3 cups of water (700 ml) and 2 tablespoons of organic dish soap, blend together.
- Transfer to a large mason jar, secure the lid, and leave for 24 hours.
- Strain the mixture through a fine gauze into your sprayer.
- Use as necessary to control pests that are infesting your fruit trees.
When preparing and using your organic garlic and chili spray, remember to wear protective clothing. Garlic and chili are irritants. The solution can cause pain and swelling if it gets on your skin, in your respiratory system, or in your eyes.
Growing Organic Fruit trees
When it comes to growing fruit trees using organic gardening techniques, prevention is always key. Creating a healthy environment for fruit trees will help them thrive and reduce your need for any type of pest control.
One of the most important factors to consider is organic soil quality. Use aged farm manure, compost, and leaf application of compost tea to help to feed your healthy fruit trees.
Regular watering can also help to prevent disease problems because it causes less stress on the tree. A stressed tree also attracts pests such as aphids and borers.
Pruning is also essential for growing organic fruit trees. This helps to strengthen the health of the tree, allows for air circulation, and results in large juicy fruits. Pruning also helps keep fruit trees at a manageable height, which makes it easier to care for them.
Remember that overripe fruit on the tree or fruit rotting on the ground will attract pests. So, pick fruit often and enjoy the fruits of your labor all summer long.