Sunday, June 14, 2009

Apple Bagging Time

The peas mulched for the rest of their growing time
Parsnips sprouted
Parsnips thinned for the first time
The lettuce with the onions that we are harvesting now
A full compost bin that will need water and care to make the black gold
The pepper planting
The potatoes transplanted into towers were stated in flats
These potatoes have adjusted to the tower and started to grow
This tower was planted with three more plants on the top
Apple cluster before thinning
Bagged fruit after thinning with one staple
This tree is bagged for the season

My fishing trip was great fun. I had two 50 fish days and one was with my fly pole so that was most exciting.
The garden did well in my short absence but has jumped ahead with warmer days. The peas have been covered and mulched. Radishes are a good crop this year. Most of the spring planted spinach has not been too successful compared to the fall planted corp. The parsnips have sprouted and need to be thinned. Lettuce is abundant in the garden and the spinach and arugula winter crops are done and in the compost bin. The bin shown in a previous entry is now full and I will soon need to start another bin.
The space where the spinach was has now been planted with this seasons peppers - thirty plants went into that space. Most of this years varieties are bell type with only a few hot varieties. I planted three of each type and have peppers that are rated from 56days (Frank's pepper) to 78 days (Pasilia Bajio). Lettuce seedlings need to be planted this week to continue the goal of garden lettuce all season.
I planted the basil crop in a variety of spots but I am trying the main planting in between the tomato plants in the front part of each row. I had problems with some basil last year and so I am not planting any basil in the same location this year. We will see how they get along with the tomatoes.
One of the potato towers in full and I have pictures of it in this entry. The potatoes were planted in the tower in a sandwich of sifted compost and straw. In the top of the tower of sifted compost I put three potatoes called Peanut Fingerling. this vertical potato crop is the garden experiment of this season. With the potatoes not in a ground row it will be hard to steal new potatoes as they grow but that is why I topped off the tower with the fingerling variety to be able to get new potatoes from the towers.
The tomatoes have adjusted to the garden and are ready for stringing up so that will be part of this weeks activities.
However the major job is bagging the apple crop. I have been bagging apples for almost ten years. In 2006 I did research on the concept and presented my findings. There are many ways to bag apples but I will briefly go through my process and will include a couple of videos to help.
Key to this process is to get the apples bagged before any plum curculio damage. This pest appearance is related to degree days but usually I prevent the damage by a single spray with Sevin right after petal drop. I have used other orchard products in the past and had bad problems - mainly leaf burn - even with exact spray mixing and application. So I only spray once and then as soon as the apples size, about the size of a nickle to quarter, I bag them using a zip closer type of bag. I use whatever is available and cheap, at less than 3 cents a bag.
The bags are prepared by slicing a drip hole in the bottom ( video ) so that condensation will not accumulate in the bag, and if rain water gets in it will drip out. On the tree, the apple clusters are prepared by removing all but one apple per cluster (usually the king fruit since it it normally the strongest developing fruit). I space my developing fruits to about six to eight inches along the branch. I do not fully open the bag the whole way as it easier to re-close the bag around the fruit if it is not fully opened. Once the fruit is bagged, I zip the bag tight to the fruit stem and staple one staple across the zip to ensure that the bag will not open. I staple only to ensure that the bags will stay closed as some baggers do not staple but just zip the bag closed and move on to the next fruit. I usually can trim clusters and bag 40to 50 apples in a hour. I am not done with my trees as of today but intend to be done with the bagging by Wednesday. So far I have put on about 200 bags -a hundred just this morning on one tree.
I like this process. The fruit matures nicely in the bags insect damage free, and I usually pick and store the fruits right in the plastic as this maintains the moisture level and prevents shriveling of the harvested fruits. Sun scald has never really been a problem. I guess the most disturbing issues are finding a bag that does not have a drip hole in it and the bag collecting water or finding the occasional earwig in with the fruit. Both problems are easily fixed.
My Wolf River apples have been known to split the bags at the end of the season but other than those few problems this process provides a nearly spray free method to harvest clean apples from my back yard tree. And with all the different grafts on my trees, I have many different varieties on my three trees. The time spent bagging the fruit is much better than the old method of applying fruit tree spray every ten to fourteen days the whole growing season. Try bagging instead and I am sure you'll like the results.
Happy Gardening

Bag Preparation


  1. I have bagged apples for some years by stapling the bags like you are doing but have found a more improved method, no stapling and I can do 80-100 bags an hour, same size bags. And less trouble with Ear Wigs getting in the bag. My method allows a Wolf River more room, no splitting the bag.

    Be happy to share my ideas.

  2. Very interesting. I will try it. What was deerdedegroot's idea that is supposed to be an improvement?