Organic Apples- you can grow that


I have a list of the “dirty dozen” on a post-it note over my desk- the fruits and vegetables that you should eat organically grown versions of, if you can get them, because of pesticide residues. Number 1 on the list, and in our hearts, is apples.
Celery, spinach, and bell peppers are on the list, but nobody around here eats enough of those to make a difference. Apples, though…we eat a lot of.
We have a giant old tree that produces sour apples, not our favorites, and about 7 years ago I planted a Golden Delicious tree. After falling down, but not being entirely uprooted, in an early fall storm last fall, it has produced prolifically this year. Prolifically enough that I thinned once in June, then again in July, taking off unripe fruit that I was worried would break off the branches.
Backyard Orchard (link) has helped figure out what to take off and what to leave, how to prune, and when.
Now the organic part… I didn’t do anything. Last year I stapled paper lunch bags to fruit I could reach, and that was effective, but this year, I was talking to a colleague, who said that since she had put up bird feeders, her apples were much cleaner. A few got wormy, but the birds came for appetizers, and stayed for dinner.
I didn’t put up feeders- the squirrels tend to get to those anyway, but I have a lot of plants that feed birds, like coneflowers, We have been building up the garden for about 12 years, making habitat for pollinators, and birds and snakes and us. Several years of building soil and habitat has made it so this summer, we didn’t have to do much- the apples kind of took care of themselves. After a summer of doing nothing, my apples look great. They are small, which tells me I need to thin more aggressively next year, and probably water more. However, they are bug-free, and pesticide free.
I am a few days late in posting this for the “You can grow that” meme, created by C.L. Fornari, a garden writer who wanted to get other writers involved in writing encouraging posts, letting people know that it isn’t that hard. It strikes me funny that Miracle Gro has a marketing plan called “you can gro that” that kind of tramples over the top of C.L. Fornari’s meme, which I have been participating in since March. I am not sure what the future holds for the meme http://wholelifegardening.com/blog/. But you should know, you can grow (yes, with a w) apples.

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