Ghost trees

I’ve started a new pest prevention strategy in the orchard…

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…and I’m sure the neighbors are wondering just what the heck happened to my trees.

Kaolin, that’s what. Ultra-fine sieved kaolin called Surround, sprayed in water solution and built up over multiple coats, is a physical pest deterrent. Its tiny particles get in the eyes, mouths, and joints of insects trying to attack the tree. While it doesn’t kill them, it does encourage them to go somewhere else and prevent them from finding or biting the fruit. It’s only applied after petal fall, when the bees have already done their pollination (so right now it’s only on my two peaches, but soon it will be the whole orchard.)

I waited until well after dark before applying the final coat though, because along with it I applied the harshest measure I’ve yet taken in my orchard: an organic insecticide. A little extra chemical persuasion that shouldn’t be applied while bees are flying. I felt furtive, and a little bit like I was stepping over to the Dark Side, but watched with glee as a few oriental fruit moths fell out of the leaves and died on the ground in front of me. Gotcha, suckers.

And then I went inside and struggled with guilt over the possibility that my peach-defense might end up harming beneficials – organic or not, insecticide is insecticide, and so very far from my previous gentler strategies¬†(as per recommendations in Michael Phillips’ The Holistic Orchard).

Josh says I worry too much about bugs, and should think of all the jam and pies instead. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high that this might – just might – be the first year we get any fruit.

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