Did you know you could keep the birds and the bees and still have no spots on your apples?
Fruit bagging is an age-old practice in Japanese orchards. After the fruit clusters have been thinned, bags are carefully placed around the remaining fruit as soon as they are big enough to resemble fruit, when they’re no more than an inch in length.
Fruit bagging is something the home gardener can do, as well.
I only recently started thinking about it, when one of my Asian pear trees set three pears for the first time this year. Three wee pears! Expecting them to fall off, like it often happens with young trees just starting to get the hang of reproduction, I sort of forgot about them until one day when I realized I had that trio of nearly full-sized fruit still hangin’ in there.
Unlike the usual practice of bagging the fruit from the start, I decided to try bagging these precious holdouts to protect them from opportunistic bugs and birds in the last stages of the pears’ development.
It’s scary. Why fuss with mother nature, who’s done so well so far? What if the bags make the fruit fall off? What if I hurt them getting the bags on there? Could it ruin the fruit?
The chances, based on experience, that the pears would get just about eating time and some hungry hungry caterpillar, nut-job of a squirrel, or bird-brain of a bird would take one nice bite or peck out of each of my pears, was greater than my fear of damage from the bag. While the bag is no ironclad guarantee of safety from any of these, particularly the birds and squirrels, it should be a deterrent.
I decided to leave one of the pears as a control, and prepared to place bags around the other two.
Using some online guides, I cut off the two bottom corners from ziplock sandwich baggies for ventilation and to allow rain to drain out, trimmed off the excess bag next to the zip strip, and simply placed the open bags over the fruit and zipped up the bags close to the stems. (Note: when I say ‘zip’ I mean press to close the zipper seal of the kind of bags without the actual zipper thing so I could leave a space open in the middle of the zip closure. Don’t use the kind with the separate plastic zip thing).
So far, so good.
From what I can tell, this method is usually only recommended for apples and pears, not peaches, where rot is a problem.
I’ll let you know what happens!
Next season I hope to apply this technique to more fruit, earlier. I hope I have more pears next year! Three pears is great, and I’m thrilled, but thirty would be even better.
And maybe even some apples?
Have you ever tried this?