A few years ago, I interviewed a gentleman from Dave Wilson nurseries and was fascinated with the “compact gardening” practice with fruit trees—keep them small so they fit in a smaller yard and so you can reach all the fruit without using a ladder.
Well, this year (2016), I found another benefit!
We have an infestation of Japanese beetles. Now, we get these every year but for the past couple of years, our neighbour put out a Japanese beetle trap and that solved our problem. But, alas, he has moved and the beetles have returned.
Our first strategy was to spray the tree with soapy water. They didn’t care.
Next strategy was to get a trap of our own and put it in the yard. Well, three days later and there were no bugs in the trap and the tree was still covered.
The third strategy was to cut a large pop bottle in two, invert the top and stick it down into the bottom, creating a funnel/trap tool. I went out and scooped the beetles into the top and they slid down into the base and stayed there. (This technique isn’t new and is very effective.)
Anyway, I went over all of my trees and got about 2 cups full of beetles. A couple of hours later, went out and did it again, getting another cup full.
So, where is the benefit of compact gardening? I could reach all the branches of the trees and get all of beetles off! A full-size tree would have been impossible to do.
I am so glad that I have pruned these trees and kept them at arm’s reach!
Take that, you nasty beetles!
-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)