Heirloom Expert: Growing Fruit Organically

Some of the keys to growing fruit trees organically include spraying them with safe products, pruning, and other organic practices to battle disease and insects.

| Winter 2014-15

  • peaches on tree
    It does take some extra work to grow organic fruit trees, but it's completely doable.
    Photo by Fotolia/leekris

  • peaches on tree

I’ve had a terrible time growing fruit trees. Much of the fruit looks terrible and I don’t want to use chemicals to treat the trees. Can they be grown organically?—Sara from New York

A friend once told me “peaches will break your heart.” He also added, “You’ll never be able to grow fruit trees without chemicals.”

He was right about the heartbreak, but wrong about the chemicals. I grow lots of organic peaches for the groundhogs! Like raccoons and corn, the groundhogs seem to get most of the peaches the day before I’m ready to pick.

In our climate in the east, peach blossoms succumb to frost about every other season, sometimes more. No blossoms means no fruit for those years, but that has nothing to do with the trees being organic. It’s also a testament to the joy of fresh peaches that gardeners are willing to wait until the stars align to pick the fruit.

Some of the keys to growing fruit trees organically include putting them on spraying regime of safe products to battle disease and insects, using proper pruning techniques, other organic pest controls and good cultural practices.

Pruning is done when the trees are dormant in late winter. Hopefully a local grower will hold a pruning class, that’s the best way to learn. I was taught by one close to home and he taught me there’s no reason to have an apple tree where you can’t reach the apples. That makes good sense, doesn’t it?



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