"Do you spray the whole tree?" asked a friend last week.
"Yes, and it takes a lot of time." I think I saw a rolling of eyes.
For this reason, I would not advocate fruit TREES for people with young children or others who are very busy. Raising vegetables and berries takes much less time per calorie yielded.
These days I am spraying and pruning to an extent that I never remember doing before. It is partly that I usually do this in February, and now I want to be enjoying the garden. It also is due to the enormous growth last year of my fruit trees. When I complained to this to Dr. Jim, he said it indicates that the trees are very healthy. That helps me to stop my internal complaining!
I never had a pruning mentor, so I know only what I've read in books and pamphlets. They say to eliminate branches that cross with another and those that go directly upward. I also cut a lot of downward branches from my peach tree to clear the walk to the back of the yard. I feel the tree complaining, "I can't win. I go up and you cut, and I go down and you cut." Perhaps that reflects my experience as a teacher and/or parent.
I am uncomfortable with the sun in my eyes, so I've discovered that it's best to stand on the east side of a tree in the morning and the west side in the afternoon.
I spray my peach, apple, and pear trees with dormant oil spray, using one of Fred's discarded "Fantastic" bottles from his car cleaning. He bought a nice bottle of concentrated "Spray Oil" locally that makes it easy to measure the one tablespoon that is needed to mix with a quart of water.
I am, thankfully, finally finished with the aforementioned trees and the grape vine, and need only put copper spray on the peach tree to try to keep down the mould. Now I embark on the kiwi vine, which is much easier, and the plum trees, which I care about less.
Do plant raspberries! They are easy to care for needing only to have their obviously dead vines removed in midsummer.
P.S. I ran this by Dr. Jim Conroy, and he says it's okay. His doctorate is in plant pathology from Purdue University. He adds the following. Not spraying would certainly save lots of time.
"I have clients with kids. They don't spray their fruit. Just peel off the skin, mold and all. Then can the apples, pears, or crabapples in Ball jars. It is good!!"