[NAFEX] Mulching Orchards

Jim Fruth jfruth at uslink.net
Fri Oct 29 10:00:09 EDT 2004

   Rondi Anderson asked for comments from people who have used leaves for
mulch in orchards.
   I've got a sign at the road that says "Needles Wanted" and folks bring me
their pine needles.  Unfortunately though, I never receive enough to cover
all of my 1.5 acres so I have to accept some leaves to finish the task.
Trouble is though, slugs proliferate in leaves.
   I used to mulch my fruit trees and cane fruit with leaves but no longer!
There was just too much slug damage.  I don't know how but slugs would even
crawl up raspberry canes to chew on its leaves.  How they crawl over thick
spines without getting impaled is baffling to me.
   Nowadays, I use pine needles around most orchard plants using leaves only
in the aisles - visitors are hard-pressed to observe a weed growing on my
property.  If needles are laid flat some slugs will cross over however slugs
seldom traverse needles that are placed helter-skelter.
   Around fruit trees, I do something different:  My main business is red
and black raspberries and blackberries and, every year I have to prune out
all of the spent floricanes.  The canes get run through my shredder/chipper
which makes the best mulch for around the fruit trees.  Of course, any
fallen tree branches and whatever is included so, not only do I not have
slug damage but ants don't like it either.  Ants used to be constantly
moving aphids to new growth between sprayings with steady streams of ants
moving up and down the boles.  Now, an ant in a fruit tree is a rare sight
and aphid damage is down to a minimum.

Jim Fruth
Pequot Lakes, MN
P.S.  Hey, I should have wrote that hint on paper and sent it to the Pomona
editors.  I think I shall. 

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