2 September 2008

Fruit fly - step one, wrap your tree

We struggle against the fruit fly here in late spring and summer. I am pleased they don't go for our tomatoes, we had them once in the capsicums (peppers), but usually they zero in on the peaches and nectarines. Last year we used exclusion bags with limited success and exclusion sleeves that were better, this year we're trying tree cloth.

Tree cloth is a product Hanno found in the local hardware store. It's a roll of strong paper cloth that allows in 80 percent natural light. It's a closed weave cloth, suitable for excluding tiny insects. The only problem with the tree cloth is that you either have to make bags with it - and I have no solar proof thread - or you have to wrap the tree like an ugly parcel. This is what we did. I take heart in knowing it's on there only for another couple of months until we harvest the fruit.

We wrapped the nectarine tree on the weekend - it's my favourite fruit. The nectarines from this tree are sweet and delicious and much tastier than any store-bought fruit I've ever eaten. Hanno and I disagree on how we should wrap - I wanted to wrap individual branches, he wanted to wrap the whole tree. It must be a boy thing. ;- ) So that is what we did but when we wrap the peach tree in a few days time, it will be wrapped as individual branches. I think that will be better as we will get a tighter fit and we just have to cover the branches with fruit on them.

If you are thinking of doing something like this, you do it after the blossoms have been pollinated and the fruit have formed - the cloth will also keep out bees. When the fruit are small, but before your known insect season, you wrap your tree, or cover with exclusion bags.

We found this one perfect, ready-to-eat peach on the weekend and, of course, ate it straight away. It has ripened well out of season but even though it was not as sweet as they will be later on, it still tasted good.

To tell you the truth, it is a real pain to do it this but it's like protecting precious jewels that will be eaten if you do it well. We keep our fruit trees pruned to the height we can reach so wrapping the tree wasn't as difficult as it might have been if we had let the trees grow to their natural height.

Now all we need to do is water the tree and wait ... but that's the really difficult part.


  1. Yes, it looks like a pain to do, but I am sure the rewards are well worth the effort you and Hanno put in to protect those jewels.
    We'll all be here waiting with you until you can harvest your fruits. I wish I coud be there for the taste test!
    Love your blog! You are so helpful to so many of us.
    Thank you!

  2. Hi Rhonda Jean
    Love reading your blog including your gardening ideas even though we are at opposite seasons here in Sweden. Your tree cloth looks like a material we use a lot here - for insulating the soil for early planting, for keeping out bugs on garden beds and/or bushes and even for shading tender plants from the sun (Yes, even in Sweden!). If it is the same stuff then I don´t think you would need to use solar proof thread to sew whatever you want to sew. Desperate for a bit of shade from the evening sun on our patio once, and too frugal to rush out and buy a blind, I cut some of this tree cloth and stitched a roller blind which served the purpose beautifully on the few occasions we needed it. Did this on my sewing machine using ordinary cotton thread in a couple of minutes. The material often doesn´t last so long - depending on wind and weather but it will last one or two seasons which is OK.
    Hope you win the battle with the bugs!

  3. We have the same fruit fly problem here but they attack our tomatoes. I might have to try something like this on the tomatoes.

    The peaches look great.

    Best wishes

    Tracie xx

  4. That was one beautiful peach! I love your garden pictures. Everything looks so well nurtured and darn healthy. The good sense and ethics of "eating local" for you and Hanno extend to just your backyard.

  5. All those peaches look just amazing. Do you know how the paper product stands up to strong winds? (Sorry to take sides here but I have to say I'd have gone with your way of wrapping too, just in case it all got blown away.)

    Your out of season ripe peach has prompted me to ask about vegies out of season. In an attempt to try to keep some crops growing all year round we've experimented a little to see what we could get to grow during the cold months (down south here in the Melboure hills). We successfully grew cauli, cabbage, broccoli and kale which are at their best here as an autumn maturing crop. Although it was reasonably good the sweetness wasn't quite there. I have no idea whether or not this affects the nutritional content either. As you've posted in the past about trying your hand at keeping things growing all year round I wondered what results you've had with the quality of any similar successes and do you know anything about the nutritional aspects?

    Regards, Marilyn

  6. Your blog is fun for me to read. We, being over here on the "other-side" of the world. . . are just now about to enter Fall.



  7. Thankfully we haven't had any problems with bugs in our fruit. The birds eat a few fruits but there are usually enough to share. I'm putting my seeds into trays this afternoon as the weather is warming up a little and I want to have a head start.

  8. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    Just a thought, have you tried eco-naturalure fruit fly bait which you can get from Greenharvest or the local nusery? I use it to protect my tomatoes as I have too many tomatoes to bag. I have had success with this bait and it is the only type of bait I use in the garden (its organic) - no rogor etc for me!
    The downside is that might be an expensive alternative to bagging/wrapping.

    Regards, Bronwyn.

  9. There's the difference in areas for you. Here in Melbourne both my peach and nectarine are bare of leaves and have the first few blossoms appearing. Mine won't look like yours for a couple of months yet!

  10. Thank you for showing this! Fruit fly are a curse here too, and I'venever heard of this paper. It will be interesting to see the results!

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Do bees need to get through the net to pollinate your fruit?

    BTW, I left an award for you on my blog: www.victoriahillfarm.blogspost.com

  13. Wrapping the whole tree seems wasteful. I understand wrapping the fruit to protect it, especially when it's for personal consumption and storage but it seems as though with a bit more time that you could use less resources by wrapping individual branches.

    I'm curious to see the comparison between wrapping the entire tree and just the fruit.

    I returned yesterday from Michigan's Upper Peninsula and you can see the trees are just starting to change color. Looks like it might be a spectacular fall for the reds. Last year was mostly yellows.

    This is where I went, DeTour Village http://www.fishweb.com/maps/chippewa/detour_passage/index.html. My mom has a house on the St. Mary's River.

  14. I'm one of your U.S. readers, and don't think I've commented before, but thought I'd pass along something I read a while ago on my home page news.

    I regret to say I can't recall which University the research was done at, but the Agriculture researcher was trying to determine how to get rid of a particular pest in the University orchards, and drawing on some 'old school' wisdom from his grandfather, decided to try what had been employed decades earlier. He tried several methods on different portions of the orchard, one of which included turning hogs loose in the orchards as the ripe fruit began to fall. They vacuumed up all the rotten and bruised fruit that harbored the pests (which laid eggs in the fallen fruit, had a very short and rapid life cycle that would continue to plague the orchards all season long otherwise)...and found it reduced the pest population overwhelmingly better than any of the other methods, including strong pesticides.

    We live in the city and can't keep pigs due to zoning restrictions, but if I lived out in the country...I'd give it a try. I wonder if I could 'borrow' a pig from a farm family at church...just for long enough to clean all the fruit up off the ground beneath my own fruit trees...

    Of course one would have to be careful about eating 'drops' and fallen fruit after having had any animals leaving their droppings behind under the trees due to harmful bacteria like e Coli and such. But then, nets could be strung beneath the trees to catch some of the unscathed fallen fruit, too.

    Having come from a long line of fruit-growing and fruit-loving folks...I well understand the desire to protect the harvest from a scourge like fruit flies.

  15. Pigs in orchards-that is happening right here in Michigan. Do a google search for "using pigs in orchards".

    My mom clearly remembers when she was a kid that her and her brother used to play behind the houses in their bare feet when they found a rattlesnake. Come to find out the whole thing was infested. There was a rattlesnake nest. One of the local farmers brought a trailer load of hogs and they killed them and eradicated the nest.


I welcome readers' comments. However, this blog never publishes business links or advertisements. If you're operating a business and want to leave your link here, I will delete your comment .

Blogger Template by pipdig