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It’s in the bag

August 16, 2012
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere , Marshall Independent

This past week, my oldest brought in an apple off of his tree to find out if it was ready to eat. It seems like it was forever ago that I sat outside, my youngest master of the garden, handing me Ziploc bags so we could try to bag apples. This actually just happened one day the beginning of June.

I give the Japanese credit for having people sit there with what seems like forever using plastic bags over their fruit, one bag per fruit on the tree (apples, pears, etc) in order to grow produce organically. I generally do not use pesticides or chemicals on our apple trees, mostly because it does not sink into the minds of my three children that they should wash their apples before they eat them.

I guess childhood should be one where as one walks past an apple tree and spies a beautiful, red, ripe apple, one should just simple be able to pick it and immediately eat it.

So, this being said, I wanted to try, once again, bagging apples to protect them not only from pests such as apple maggot but also from diseases.

It is a pretty simple task. As soon as you see the tiny little apples forming on the tree which is practically right after the blossom falls off, they need to be bagged. I use Ziploc or sandwich bags. I carefully place the bag over the fruit and secure it either by stapling the ends of the bag together or using a twist tie. I think either way seems to work equally well. The very tip of the bag is cut off to allow water to drip out of the bag.

I bagged probably around 30 apples around the different trees that we have and so far, they look perfect with one exception. It definitely does not protect against hail. I guess we would have to wrap the apples in bubble wrap for that scenario. The apple he brought to the house was perfect. No blemishes, no pesky places where pests had taste tested either. The apple looked great and tasted great, too.

There is now another alternative to the Ziploc bags which is called Startbagging fruit bags which is coming into the market place. These are a reusable (great for the environment) bag that are made of cloth with a pull cord to close off the top. I think someone was really thinking on this one. They may not protect as well against diseases but if you are particularly worried about insects, then this will work well for you.

Bagging other items will work well for other things such as tomatoes. This is something that I have not yet looked into but might be of interest since I have some marauding chickens and one peacock that like to eat tomatoes irregardless of what color they might be at the time they pass by the tomato plants.

I understand that some others have used the bagging system to deter deer as well. I am just curious if we can't use it on other plants, with the only problem that we only have a select size of plastic bags that we can use. It would also take a lot of Ziploc bags to cover something like sweet corn and I think that raccoons would be gregarious enough to figure out how to take the corn out of the bag anyway. It is something worth thinking about for the future.

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