Buon Anno, ortolani fieri,
Most new gardeners have the notion that the growing season ends with the first fall frost, without realizing that gardening is a hobby/occupation, that occupies your time the entire 12 months of the year, yes, even during winter. My cold frames aside, which provide us with greenery, other chores need to be carried out to be a successful gardener. Those that hang up their boots in late October are not wholeheartedly into organic gardening, or into vegetable and fruit gardening.
Take for instance this past Saturday and Sunday, when the temperature in mid-January in Connecticut reached 60ºF (16ºC), and while inspecting my espaliered red delicious apples, I discovered a few branches had wooly aphids. I could have left it alone and relied on the cold to destroy it, but I knew it wouldn’t because the covering usually keeps them safe. I had already sprayed a dose of horticultural oil on that particular plant before Thanksgiving, but, I either missed the area, or the oil wasn’t effective. Either way, I had to roll up my sleeves and use what my grandfather used in our garden back in the old county – Bordeaux mix.
Bordeaux mix is a strange fungicide, and those unfamiliar with it find it difficult to mix because the portions are not equal as far as volume; they are measured by weight. That’s why it takes 3 tablespoons of copper sulfate to 10 tablespoons of hydrated lime per gallon of dechlorinated water. At times I also use Lime-Sulfur during winter when the trees are dormant. Just make sure the whole tree, including the trunk is covered thoroughly. I use my 4 Gal. (15 liters) backpack sprayer and need about 8 Gal. (30 liters) of the mixture to cover 4 espaliered, and 3 dwarf apples, plus 1 espaliered Asian and 2 dwarf pear trees. I also apply it on the dwarf cherry, peach and both espaliered and conventionally grown apricot trees, not to mention the grape arbor that produces Vinifera type white grapes.
Aphids are not that destructive to fruit trees, nonetheless, maintaining a sanitary backyard orchard is necessary to prevent insects and pathogens from reoccurring during the incoming spring.
Nick Mancini, The Organic Italian