Organic Orchard Maintenance

Organic farming doesn’t simply mean that you do nothing and let nature take its course.  If that were the case, the bugs and diseases would completely take over!  Maintaining an orchard using organic principles and techniques is highly specialized, very weather dependant and a true labour of love as it is very labour intensive!


Over the years we have experimented with various natural substances and methods to control the many pests and diseases that attack apple trees in particular.  We believe we know have the “secret sauce” that works extremely well for us!  Organic apples will rarely be that picture perfect, completely blemish free apple that you can buy in the grocery store.  Those apples are there only by virtue of the unbelievable array of chemicals that they are exposed to, as many as 20 different sprayings of chemicals during a 4 month growing season.


Even though Loughborough Heritage Orchard is maintained using exclusively organic and natural products and according to organic standards, we are not government certified organic.  The size of our orchard is limited and the cost of certification would drive up the costs of our produce.  One of our primary goals and philosophies is to ensure that we provide the best produce we can at a price that is affordable for everyone.


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Disease Control


Apple trees are highly susceptible to various diseases caused by fungi and viruses. The most common fruit tree diseases include fire blight, scab, black rot, bitter pit, powdery mildew and cedar apple rust.


Disease is managed by proper orchard maintenance including regular pruning to ensure air circulation, the removal of weak, already diseased and dead branches, disposal of leaf litter in the fall, enriching the soil with “free & readily available” natural fertilizer (aka aged manure), sanitized pruning equipment, mulching the base of trees and keeping the grass trimmed.


Interesting bit of unknown trivia – horse urine (urea) is highly effective at controlling fungal diseases especially apple scab, so our horses have a very specific task to do!!  It is also well known that honey bees worldwide are seriously threatened by commercial herbicides and insecticides.

Pest Control


We use only organic products to ward off insects and pests!

Garlic oil, canola oil, lime sulphur, kaolin clay, baking soda, Murphy’s Oil Soap, blackstrap molasses, liquid fish, Neem oil & apple cider vinegar are all in our bug zapping secret sauce! We also “sock” the fruitlets of some of our trees with nylon socklettes to ward off egg laying pests – hilarious, but highly effective.


Our free ranging chickens help to devour larvae and bugs that hatch on the orchard floor before these pests can climb up the trees.  The chickens are moved around the orchard in portable large coops on wheels in our East Orchard.


Commercial apples are sprayed a minimum of 20 times per season.  Many of the pesticides & chemicals used do more than just coat the apple; some penetrate the skin to go deep into the apple cell tissues.  These chemicals cannot be washed off.  Apple “mega” orchards are almost impossible to maintain using an organic program.