Growing fruit trees can be a rewarding, as well as delicious, practice, but keeping those fruit trees healthy can become expensive if you need to buy fungicidal sprays, pest sprays, and other fruit tree sprays. Making your own homemade spray for fruit trees is not difficult and does not require a lot of ingredients. Homemade fruit tree sprays are often less toxic and just as effective as the sprays you can buy in the store.
Preventing Fruit Tree Diseases
Prevention is the best method for dealing with fruit tree diseases, and a homemade compost tea is one of the best preventative methods for fruit trees. Make your own compost tea using compost from your garden in a ratio of about 1 cup of solid compost matter to 1 gallon of water. Allow to steep at least three days, then strain through burlap. Return the solids to the compost pile and add the liquid to a small sprayer. According to Rodale's Garden Answers, in addition to providing nutrients when applied to the roots of plants, research has consistently shown than spraying plants with compost tea can prevent and reduce some diseases.
Dealing with Fruit Tree Pests
Soaps kill some pests, like aphids, by destroying their outer surfaces, and soap prevents other pests who would otherwise chew and destroy leaves but do not like the taste of soap. Make your own soap spray by mixing 1 tbsp. dish soap (not detergent) with 1 gallon of water. Spray on plants, including underside of leaves, and be sure to wash any fruit caught in the spray thoroughly before eating. Soap will not harm the tree, but it will get rid of unwanted visitors to your fruit trees.
Dealing with Unwanted Plant Growth at Base of Fruit Trees
If you have weeds growing at the base of your fruit trees, you may wish to apply a natural herbicide to get rid of the unwanted plants without destroying your tree. According to the "Dirt Doctor," Howard Garrett, one of the best herbicides you can use is a spray prepared by using 1 gallon of 10 percent vinegar, 1 ounce orange oil, 1 tbsp. molasses and 1 tsp. dish soap. Do not add water. Add the mixture to a small sprayer and shake well before you spray any undesirable plants. This spray will not injure your tree if sprayed at the base, but it will if sprayed on the leaves. This spray should not be used to remove suckers from your grafted fruit trees. Those should be clipped off at the base of the growth.
All-Purpose Fruit Tree Spray
Although all fruit trees should be sprayed with a dormant spray each session to kill off any bugs who may have made homes in the branches over the winter, this spray, from Pest Control Options, makes a great year-round fruit tree spray to prevent fungus and insect invasions. Mix 1 cup compost tea, 1 tbsp. liquid seaweed, 1 tbsp. molasses, 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp. Murphy's oil soap, and 1 gallon of water. This mixture should be lightly misted all over the tree, including the leaves. The molasses will absorb quickly into the leaves, and the seaweed and compost tea provide nutrients for your fruit trees.
To Cure A Fruit Tree with Problems
All of the methods listed above are to prevent problems, but if you already have issues, you can try using the All-Purpose Fruit Tree Spray with one important addition: 1 tbsp. tea tree oil. This antibacterial oil can help get rid of fungus problems that already have a start on your tree, and also will help with out-of-control pest problems. Still, you may wish to consult a professional if you are worried about the state of your fruit tree or orchard to see if the tea tree oil addition is the right step for you.
Based in Rhode Island, Moira Richardson has been working as a freelance writer full-time for two years. She has been published in print for Providence Monthly, Campus Connection, The Newport Mercury, Prime Time Magazine, and SO Rhode Island. She has a bachelor's Degree in English: Creative Writing and is almost finished her master's degree in same field.