Weatherford Democrat

February 1, 2008

Gardening is the purest of human pleasures

Jo Anne Boudreau, Democrat Columnist

Sink your teeth into an apple right off the tree that is so fresh and juicy that it crunches and squirts flavor. There are varieties that perform well in hot, dry climates such as ours. Gala and Fuji apple trees are self-fruitful and grow well in this area.

Apples, especially green apples, cleanse the liver and gallbladder and help soften gallstones. Go on a three day apple juice fast when apples are just right for picking every year. For three days, juice local grown organic apples and drink the juice and plenty of water. On the third night, drink (gulp it) a half cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice mixed with a half cup of olive oil and go to bed and lay on the right side so the lemon juice and olive oil can cleane the liver and gallbladder. This helps soften and pass gallstones. This annual ritual is a tried and true method of cleansing the gallbladder of stones. Belly fat is normally caused by a congested gallbladder.

Apples are easier to assimulate than most other fruits since they contain malic and tartaric acids, which inhibit fermentation in the stomach. Their pectin promotes beneficial intestinal flora to help support normal colon function. Grated raw apples help reduce fever in children. My mother baked apples with cinnamon and honey to ease dry cough and cleanse mucus from the lungs. Apples are an excellent low-calorie source of pectin, fiber and nutrients, especially beneficial to athletes. Their flavanoids help reduce the risk of heart diesease and inhibit the development of cancer.

The apple, a member of the rose family, originated not far from the mythical Eden in Central Asia, where apple trees still cover the foothills. The effects of the sun is important to apple trees. The more sunshine Apples get during the growing season, the more sugar they contain.

Fireblight can cause severe damage to apple and pear trees. Cut off infected twigs and branches. Disinfect pruning tools between cuts by dipping in a solution of liquid bleach. Aphids, leafhoppers and beetles must be controlled, since they help spread fireblight. Use insecticidal soap and Neem every 10 days, starting when leaf tip damage appears. Apple maggot spoils apples from the inside out. To control this pest, mix one part molasses to nine parts water with one teaspoon of yeast per gallon in a wide mouth jar. Cover with a course-mesh cloth to keep out bees. Hang one jar on each apple tree so the sun strikes them.

Bags of sumac leaves buried around the base of apple trees helps repel wooly aphids. Tannin is the active principle in sumac leaves. Spray a strong brew of tannin rich tea mixed with one teaspoon of dish soap, three tablespoons each of liquid seaweed and fish emulsion for each gallon of water on apple and other fruit trees to control insects. Ground oystershells spread around the roots is helpful in reducing insect damage.

To plant apple trees, dig a hole the size of the root system. Position the tree with the graft facing east. Backfill the planting hole with native soil only. Spread six inches of compost or cedar mulch over the planting area, being careful to not let the compost touch the trunk. The mulch will decompose and feed the young tree during the first spring and summer. In the fall, apply a thick layer of poultry or animal manure along with cottonseed and corn meals. Feeding fruit trees in the fall is crucial. It allows the roots to store nutrients for spring growth and fruit production. Water deeply every two weeks when it doesn’t rain. Plant chives, garlic, leeks, onions, marigolds or nasturtiums, thickly around apple trees.

Listen to Jo Anne Boudreau on “Herb Talk” Thursday morning from 8 to 9 on KMQX 88.5, 89.5, K72AZ 93.3, KSQX 89.1 FM Radio and