Controlling insect damage and fungal diseases is an important step to harvesting plenty of good fruit from your trees. It is easier to begin a preventative spraying program than dealing with a sudden infestation of insects. Garlic is a potent insect repellent used both as a spray and as a companion plant. Preventative spraying can be started in early spring months and continued through harvest time. Garlic can also be used in combination with other plants as an organic spray for bugs.
Pest and disease problems
Many traditional fruit tree sprays are now outlawed because they are considered poisonous to the environment, so home gardeners are looking for new methods. Garlic contains allicins, which have anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Garlic extracts also contain other sulphur-based compounds which are effective against pests. Garlic spray is effective against aphids, ants, caterpillars, whitefly, peach borer, termites, wireworm and army worms. It will also kill bacteria and fungi.
Deterrent to birds
Birds are often a problem to fruit tree owners. They eat large quantities of ripe fruit just at harvest time. Garlic is an effective solution for this problem because it does not harm the birds. Garlic sprayed on the tree and fruit will act as a barrier to birds, sending them somewhere else.
Recipe for garlic spray
It’s easy to make a batch of garlic spray for home use. Take an entire garlic bulb and put it in the blender with 2 cups water. Mix at high speed for 1 to 2 minutes. Put in a container and set aside for a day. Strain liquid through a cheesecloth and combine with 1 gallon water. Other spray recipes call for onion or chili peppers; often with a little dish soap.
How to spray
Large home sprayers are available at garden centers or by mail order from garden supply companies. Do your spraying early in the morning so the mixture dries before the sun becomes hot. Do not spray when it’s windy. Spray a gentle mist over the leaf tops and undersides.
Even organic pest control sprays should be used with caution. Garlic can sting eyes and skin and leave a noxious odor on clothing. Use a diluted spray near harvest time so there is no residue garlic taste on the fruit. There is some evidence that garlic kills beneficial insects along with the pests. There are also reports that it is harmful to the lichen growth in old orchards.