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 www.KYQX.com