by Bob Groeneveld/Special to the Langley Advance
Gardeners love this time of year.
Or at least, I do.
Most of the hard work is done for the year. Mostly there’s just some weeding and watering. And watering hasn’t been a big deal this year… yet. That’s the upside of a relatively humid transition from late spring to early summer.
There is the matter of dead-heading June’s flowers. But then again, that task is easily accomplished while enjoying your July flowers. And eating some of the early produce.
Last year wasn’t so sweet.
The usual hard work was done, as expected. But my apple trees were again under attack from a relatively new menace to the Fraser Valley: the apple maggot fly.
My trees were covered with the rotters – and I do use the term “rotters” advisedly. Apple maggots’ damage is similar to that of the more familiar codling moth. Only exponentially worse.
Remember that silly joke: “What’s worse than biting into an apple and finding a worm? Finding half a worm!”
That would have been about codling moths. You wouldn’t bother biting into an apple visited by an apple maggot fly.
After several years of escalating battles resulting in only multiplying numbers of flies, last year I employed a pheromone to trap them – and just attracted them from all over the neighbourhood.
My trees were prolific, but among the many dozens of apples that grew on them, not a single one was edible. They were so worm-eaten, that I could not even salvage any for juicing.
So this year, I threw down the ultimate gauntlet. When the baby apples were about a centimetre in diameter, I stapled 200 of them inside sandwich bags.
By this time last year, many apples showed signs of maggot fly egg-laying activity. And I was trying to hand-pick the flies off my trees three or four at a time.
Now, with a half to two thirds of my apples happily – and healthily – growing in plastic bags, there is no sign of fly damage or of the flies themselves.
It’s puzzling, because the unbagged apples are clean, too.
If all of the unbagged apples turn out worm-free… do you have any idea how much boring effort is involved in stapling sandwich bags around 200 tiny apples?
I’m not sure whether I’ll be laughing or crying when I bite into all those perfect apples.