Having blemish free fruit can be a challenge using natural methods. This guide contains natural pesticide solutions for fruit trees.
When and with what do I spray two apple trees? I pruned them in February.
Hardiness Zone: 5a
By Mazie from National City, MI
I'm certainly not an expert but I will tell you what we do. Nothing. We have never sprayed our apple tree and in the 8 years we have lived here (previous owners planted the tree, so I don't know how old it is) we have never had a problem with bugs. I like the idea of being able to eat food that hasn't been sprayed. Good luck.
I have an apple tree, I don't know what kind, the fruit is red green with white flesh. It has had bugs, I think. They are not seen usually. I don't spray because the neighborhood kids will just take one and eat it. They are ripening way too soon and it's thought they have bugs/worms. What kind of organic bug/worm spray can I use?
Hardiness Zone: 5a
By Teresa from Peoria, IL
If they've got bugs, probably nothing will help this year.
BUT, read up on dormant sprays for fall, and then for next year and absolutely perfect apples, read up on bagging apple trees, originally a Japanese idea, now very popular with the Home Orchard Society, in Oregon [google words and you will find them], and what they have to say about it. I can hardly wait to try it myself, next year.
Hardiness Zone: 10a
Helene from Sarasota, Florida
If by "natural" you mean organic, you might try applying horticultural oils. These oils were originally developed to prevent transmission of viruses (often spread by aphids) and to kill hard-to-control pests that overwinter on trees. They work on aphids and other soft-bodied insects by smothering them, but they also work on caterpillars and many plant diseases. Most are made with natural ingredients-usually derived from different types of plant oils. Horticultural oils should not be applied during freezing weather, at temperatures above 100 degrees, during excessive humidity or when rain is in the immediate forecast. Some oils cause leaves to scald and burn so they should be tested on a small area first before wider application.
There are also many organic insecticidal soaps effective at controlling aphids. Again, they can cause leaves to burn so they should be tested in small areas before applying. You can make you own with 1-1/2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap to 1 quart of water. These need to be reapplied after it rains and may need to be washed off within a few hours/days to avoid scalding leaves.
Teas made from wormwood or nasturtium are also said to repel aphids from fruit trees. These are made by mashing or blending 1 to 2 cups of fresh leaves with 2 to 4 cups of water and leaving them to soak overnight. You can also make them by pouring 2-4 cups of boiling water over 2-4 cups of fresh or 1 to 2 cups of dry leaves and letting them steep until cool. Strain out the pulp and add 2-4 more cups of water. Adding a small amount of liquid dish soap (1/4 teaspoon) will help the "tea" stick to the leaves when you spray it. Apply this weekly and make sure you get it on the undersides of the leaves.
I think the simplest and most effective chemical-free treatment for aphids is simply to spray them off with a stiff jet of water from the garden hose. You don't have to worry about burning or scalding your leaves and your tree will appreciate the water.