Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
April, 2010
Regional Report

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It may look funny, but this little nylon footie will keep out pests

Baggin' My Apples

I%ve been diligent about my apples this year. I pruned them extensively in late March, opening them up to plenty of air circulation. I cut off a good bit of wood, and this reduced the crown as well as the number of blossoms, making them a bit more manageable.

Bag with Nylon "Footies"

I spent last week bagging the tiny fruits, but not with the plastic zip bags I used last time. This year, I found a great website for a group called the Home Orchard Society, and their latest recommendation is to use nylon footies to bag the apples.

It may sound kind of funny (not to mention what it looks like), but actually the footies are easier to apply. I didn%t have to raid local shoe stores % the Orchard Society actually sells new ones. I paid about $25.00 for 250 of them and they shipped them to me in about four days.

Thin and Bag

So, when the apples were a little less than half an inch across, I thinned them to one fruit on each spur. As I thinned them, I placed one of these little nylon bags on each one that was left. According to the Orchard Society, these footies are one hundred percent effective against apple maggots and almost that effective against coddling moths. These are two of apples% worst enemies since they lay their eggs just under the surface, and then the larvae tunnel and make the flesh unappealing.

Soak Nylons in Kaolin Clay

I did soak my footies in a dilute solution of kaolin clay as they suggested, and then let them dry before putting them on. This is supposed to make them even more effective. The key to overall effectiveness is simple logic. They must be applied before the moths emerge in spring. This is usually in mid-May around here. The apple fruit fly emerges a few weeks later.

Why Thin?

Thinning fruit is important because the apple branches often cannot support the heavy fruit. Also, if you thin to one fruit on each fruit spur, that fruit will get larger. Another problem with more than one fruit on a spur is that the spot where they touch each other is an ideal spot for pests to be protected and for coddling moth larvae to enter the fruit.

These nylon footies stretch as the fruit grows, allowing the apples to reach their full potential. Applying them is as simple as slipping the tube over the developing fruit and twisting the top around the stem of the fruit. These can be used on apples, Asian pears and any other fruits of size.

Footies Reusable

One of the best features is that they are reusable. Evidently it is fairly easy to wash them, and they return to the same basic shape before they were stretched out as the fruit grows. So, I%ll keep you posted on my organic, bug-free apples!

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