There is nothing more satisfying then biting in to a delicious fruit that you watched flower, grow and ripen into a nutritious treat! Now that the snow has stopped falling and the temperatures are hovering above zero at night, its time to dig out gardening gloves and tools and begin to prepare for the gardening season. There are many different tasks that need to be completed before the first green buds poke their sleepy heads up from the dirt. It is now that you should do the prep work to protect your a vegetation as they begin to grow and mature.
DH grew up in a garden friendly family. They grew stunning flower beds, mouthwatering fruit trees and of course every vegetable you could possible think of! My DH’s favourite was the cherry trees. He loves reminiscing about his favourite childhood memories of picking fresh cherries, warmed by the sun on hot summer days. Two years ago, I bought DH two dwarf cherry trees for Father’s Day so that he could create special memories such as this with his children.
While fruit trees offer fresh fruit and cherished memories, there is also a lot of prep work and maintenance to yield a delicious bounty of fruit. Although, I could write an entire series on watering, mulch, location and pruning, the problem we were unprepared for with Cherry trees was the insect and pest control.
An aphid (also known as plant lice) is a tiny bug that feeds off of fruit trees and plants by drinking their sap. They reproduces rapidly, don’t need a mate to do so, and range in color from green to yellow, brown, red, or even black. When an aphid feeds off your plant, the leaf shrivel and curl and the aphids leave behind a black fungus (sooty mold) and sugary substance (called honeydew).
The honeydew is sweet and attracks ants to the party. The ants feed on the sugary honeydew left behind by aphids and in exchange protect the aphids from predators and other parasites. What begins as a few curled leaves can quickly get out of hand.
The best time to protect your cherry trees is before the aphids arrive. As soon as the weather stays above zero, they days are warm and the buds haven’t turned green yet, its time to spray your trees. Last year, we were too late. Being new cherry tree owners, we learned about spraying them after the tree had already blossomed. Then one day we noticed some black bugs on our trees and one or two leaves curling. By the weekend, the entire tree was covered with black aphids and continual stream of ants carrying them up and down the tree.
What to do if your Cherry tree is covered with Aphids and Ants:
1. Wash down leaves to rid colonies. Take each leaf, branch and twig and literately pick or wipe the aphids and ants off.
2. Mix up the ultimate Homemade Aphid Deterrent
1 TB spoon canola oil.
1 Liter of water.
A few drops of liquid soap (The DAWN brand works the best)
Soak the leaves, branches and trunk with this solution. Repeat 3 times a week until the problem is resolved.
3. Wrap the trunk of the tree in Fly Tape. This traps the ants and prevents them from climbing the tree to feast on the honeydew and protect the aphids.
After several treatments, I’m happy to report that we were able to save our tree. We had lush green leaves all summer long, but unfortunately, no fruit. I’m not sure if this is because the tree was so young, or if the aphids ate all the blooms.