Windfall fruit: Pick it up or leave it?

Windfall apples under a tree
Windfall apples under a tree

If you pick up fallen fruit, you should dispose of it. The reason is that most fallen fruit is infested with pests. If you leave it lying around, you will attract even more and larger pests.

In nature, fruits sooner or later fall from the tree to the ground and are left to their own devices. Does this also make sense in the garden? After all, fruit rots quickly and attracts pests. Here is how to deal with fallen fruit properly.

What is windfall actually?

Soberly considered, windfall is the fruit that falls from the tree to the ground before harvesting. However, the quality of fallen fruit is not comparable to that of healthy fruit. This is because, as a rule, trees separate themselves from fruit that is in some way infested or diseased. Sometimes powerful storms also cause healthy fruit to fall to the ground prematurely.

What happens when you leave fallen fruit lying around?

Trees discard fruit because they use it to rid themselves of pests. This is especially true for infestation by caterpillars of the codling moth and the plum moth. Fallen fruit starts to ferment quite quickly and then it decomposes more and more. For wasps this is a real feast, they feed on the muddy fruit. If you have an area with windfall fruit, which is already detected and used by bees and other insects, you can not easily enter this area.

What happens when the fruit is infested with pests?

Fruit infested with pests decomposes very quickly and quickly gives off a foul odor. The smell nuisance can possibly also cause trouble with the neighbors. In addition, the slimy mud makes the lawn very slippery and poses accident risks. The vermin that set in are a feast for birds and other small animals such as rats and mice.

If you do not dispose of the fallen fruit, the lawn will suffer more or less serious damage. The pests look for a safe place, stay in the garden over the winter and cause further damage the next year. Maggots love the environment and rats also feast on fallen fruit. In addition, the rotten fallen fruit is an ideal breeding ground for fungi. That is why it is not advisable to throw fallen fruit on the open compost.

How often should you collect fruit?

How often you need to collect fallen fruit depends on the fruit. In fact, it makes sense to pick up fruit as often as possible to avoid the negative consequences described above. It is best to collect it daily or after two days at the latest.

Tips for picking up windfalls

To pick up fallen fruit, you will need a bucket, work gloves, a rake, and possibly a spade. Picking up fallen fruit early will help prevent diseases and pests from spreading in the garden. Here’s the best way to go about it:

  • Pick up the fallen fruit daily and dispose of it out of the garden. You can put it in the organic waste garbage can or even feed it to animals.
  • Check trees for fruit that is infested with fruit rot. Remove the fruit and dispose of it.
  • If there is a lot of fruit to pick up, use the rake. For larger quantities, it has proven effective to simply bury fallen fruit. Mix the fruit with the fallen leaves, and it will quickly become fertile soil.

What else can you do with fallen fruit?

You can make good use of fallen fruit by using it as animal feed. If you don’t have animals yourself, offer it to the local animal shelter, animal rescue, zoo or forester. Untreated fallen fruit is good for them to use. Just ask, you may be able to do some good.

For hedgehogs, birds and squirrels, fallen fruit is just as tasty a snack. You can set up feeders and stock them regularly with fresh fallen fruit. If you want to benefit from fallen fruit yourself, cut out damaged parts and process them into compote, juice or jam.

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