When we first viewed our plot, the fruit trees were in full blossom. The largest tree we knew was a cherry tree, likewise the smaller tree next to it. I recognised one of the other trees as being an apple tree, but had no idea about the others. We recently learned that we have a pear tree – great news for me as I absolutely love pears! It didn’t seem to be in great condition, however, so I took a closer look to see what state it was in.
When I say I’m a complete beginner to allotmenteering/gardening, it’s not an exaggeration! Apart from a few containers in our small yard at home, and a few houseplants that have managed to survive beyond a couple of weeks, I’ve never done any growing or cultivation.
The first thing I noticed was that some of the leaves of the pear tree had red spots on them. These had occurred in clusters of leaves, with large sections of the tree unaffected. A quick Google search revealed this was pear leaf blister mite, which, obviously, I’d never heard of. I learnt that you can simply remove the affected leaves if the infestation isn’t too severe, but that you should leave them alone if the entire tree is covered as removing that many leaves is likely to cause severe damage to the tree. As it wasn’t particularly widespread, we simply began to remove the affected clusters of leaves.
While it doesn’t look very appealing, pear blister mite does not affect the fruit, so it’s still safe to eat. The Royal Horticultural Society has more in-depth information on the pear blister mite here.
The next thing I discovered was pear scab. This was only present on a couple of pears, and again, isn’t serious. I honestly had no idea of all the crop-specific conditions and diseases that were out there, but luckily everything I’ve come across so far has been non-serious and easy to deal with! While pear (and apple) scab is serious in commercial crops as it means the fruit can’t be sold, it apparently barely affects the quality of the fruit at all so the fruit can still be used. I’m not sure how tempting I would find scabby fruit, even knowing it was safe, but it doesn’t seem to be very widespread at all so fingers crossed it stays that way!
The RHS (again – what would I do without their site and books?) recommends pruning young shoots that have been affected, and clearing away fallen leaves and affected fruit to try and limit the amount of fungus still around to cause scabbing next season.
Next job is to closely inspect the apple tree and see what kind of state that’s in!