No spray fruit

gbig2(6)January 14, 2008

I was going to plant some dwarf fruit trees but I've read that you need to spray fruit trees often, some sites say 5-6 times a year. I'm an organic veggie gardener so I'd like to stay away from chemicals. What fruit can I grow up here in PA that I don't have to spray or if it's easier, what shouldn't I grow? I know blueberries can be grown without chemicals so I'll grow lots of them. I have an acre lot that use to be an orchard so lots of room.

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You can grow strawberries organically, too, and probably Concord grapes, apples and pears, too. The apples and pears won't be cosmetically perfect, but they will produce well. Raspberries will grow themselves.

Here is a link that might be useful: my website

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 8:38PM
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austransplant(MD 7)

I've been getting into edible landscaping the last three years and now have all sorts of fruit trees and bushes going, though only a few have set fruit. It is generally agreed that apples, pears, quinces, plums, nectarines, peaches are difficult to grow on the East Coast without spraying, due to disease and insect pressures. Some disease-resistant apples have been developed (I'm growing some; this year should be their first fruit -- can't wait!), but no apples are insect resistant and we have devastating insect pests such as plum curculio. It is possible to use organically approved sprays to help lower disease worries (e.g, lime-sulphur, copper), and the new refined kaolin clay ("Surround") seems to work well if applied diligently to resist insect pests, especially if followed by bagging fruit (search the Fruit forums). In general, though, growing these fruits will involve a fair bit of effort (including pruning).

But others won't. Blackberries do great here in Maryland. No spraying needed, only netting to keep off the birds (as will be required with blueberries too) and a pretty simple pruning regimen. I highly recommend Triple Crown -- though it will need trellising. I have been growing fall ripening raspberries, and for three years now they have had no disease, insect or bird problems (ripening after the main bird pressure seems to be over). Blueberries will require soil preparation; they require acidic soil and most soils are not sufficiently acidic. But apart from that they are pretty trouble free.

You might think of mulberries - you've got the space. Illinois Everbearing is the most recommended variety for the East coast.

I have put in a number of asian fruits: persimmons and che fruit; you might also think of jujubes (Try "Edible Landscaping" company in Virginia). These are reputed to be fairly disease and pest resistant, perhaps because they are so rarely grown that disease and insect pressures have yet to build up.

I am also trying gooseberries and currants. Last year I planted 3 gooseberry varieties, and two had no problems (one got leaf spot and lost leaves). You would want to select mildew resistant varieties (check out "Whitman farms" online). Currants are a thing I'm just getting into, but may do well.

If you are not too far north and have a nice sheltered area facing south, figs would be recommended. They are pretty resistant to disease and insect problems, but will need to be netted and possibly protected in winter.

Hope this is helpful.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 10:42PM
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austransplant had many good ideas, some other fruits that dont require much work or chemicals are
*paw-paw(Asimina triloba) native, vanilla custard like fruit
*Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas) this one is also very pretty.
*Hardy Kiwi [vine] (Actinidia arguta)like the kiwi that you would get at the store but much smaller and smooth.
*American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) native, from what i've heard requires no pruning and no spraying.

If you cant find any of these plants locally they are all available at, but definitely try for a local supplier.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 12:19PM
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lynnt(Z7 MD)

I agree with the earlier posters that currants, strawberries, blackberries and figs all do well organically. In addition to these, in my garden in the DC suburbs I have a North Star dwarf sour pie cherry that produces well despite never being sprayed in the 15 years I've had it. I also grow sambucus (elderberry) for elderflower and elderberry wine & jam. Also, consider planting a serviceberry (amelanchier) -- a small tree with blueberry-type berries in mid-Spring that make great jams and pies.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 12:39PM
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I have had great luck growing raspberries organically. I now have 7 different varieties. My North Star cheries alwayd did well, but were all cruched in an ice storm a couple years ago.

Last fall got a good crop of apples, but some other years not so good.

I think the most important thing to do when growing organic is to prune well, get rid of the older and diseased parts. Also pruning helps a nice air flow thru the plants, dries them out sooner.

Here is a link that might be useful: My plant identification project

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 3:11PM
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