Home-made Codling Moth Traps

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Home-made Codling Moth Traps Recipe

This year we’re trying a recipe for home-made Codling Moth traps, using liquid molasses. The ingredients are as follows:

  • 100ml (0.5 cup) liquid molasses (not the crystalised sugar type)
  • 1 litre (2.5 cups)warm water
  • 3g (0.5 tspn) dried baker’s yeast

Mix it all together in a jug – apparently the Codling Moth is attracted to the smell of molasses, and the yeast increases the number of volatiles in the concoction. 2016 codling moth traps 2I have absolutely no idea if this works as I’m not a chemist, but a youtube video from Utah University says it does, so who am I to argue?

This is enough liquid to fill three plastic 4-pint milk cartons. I simply cut a hole in the one side so that once it’s hung in the tree by twine around the handle, the hole is facing downwards, on the opposite side to the handle. There’s only about 4cm (1.5″) of liquid in each carton, and I’ve bent the tab up created by cutting the hole only on three sides, to create a small overhang, preventing rain water from getting in and diluting the mix. home-made Codling Moth trapsI may cut another hole on the other side though, as someone has suggested this will help move the smell around the orchard.

These Codling Moth traps need placing in the trees from May through to August, and I’m going to initially change them every month, unless they look as though they need changing more frequently. We have them every fourth tree or so at the moment, but I’ll keep adding to to them as we get through the milk!


2016 plum moth trapsPlum Moth Traps

Whilst poddling down the orchard I also set some Plum Moth traps – again, I have no idea if they’ll work but we had wormy plums at the tree next to the house last year, so time will defintely tell! With these types of trap, one pheromone bait will last the entire season, which is less hassle than the home-made molasses version for the apple trees.

Bacterial Canker in Plums

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Bacterial Canker – dead buds in spring time

The Curse of Bacterial Canker

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Bacterial Canker – dead blossom in spring time

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Bacterial Canker – Gummosis

Bacterial Canker is evil. Walking the orchard this spring, to get a feel for how the trees have fared over the cold and wet (or warm and wet in this case) winter, I noticed that a few of the plum trees in the little orchard didn’t look great. On a few the blossom had withered and turned brown, on some the leaves had also turned brown or just remained as undeveloped buds which were dry to the touch. And on one tree in particular, we had the awful sight of gummosis, a potential sign of canker. With two of the trees we’ve had no fruit in the five years they’ve been in the ground, despite being on semi-dwarf rootstock, and the leaves did something similar last year. We’ve recently joined the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) and they have a fantastic service whereby you can send samples in and they will carry out a pathogenic study for you, so you know what you’re dealing with.

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A common symptom of Bacterial Canker – early buds die, later foliage looks good with the possibility of ‘shotholes’. The leaves will drop early in the year.

Three days later and the three sample we sent off came back positive for Bacterial Canker – an opportunistic canker that infects wounds or prune cuts, remaining dormant over winter in the tree, to pop up in the spring. The infection causes leaves to drop early, allowing the infection to re-enter the tree through the leaf wound, and so infecting the tree for next year. The gummosis is a sign of a few tree problems, but the fact we also had dead leaf buds and blossom pointed to Bacterial Canker. In an older tree we could cut out dead wood and treat the tree to prolong its useful life, but as these trees are so young, and main branches were infected, I decided to pull them up and dispose of them. We’ve had problems in the orchard with cherries first, and now plums, and I suspect that the ground is having a part to play with it. Since that bad winter four years ago, where we were waterlogged for several months, the stone fruit has suffered. The majority of the cherries died in that winter, some survived but succumbed to a canker of sorts in the spring and summer, and now this warm wet winter seems to have done similar to the plums. The apple trees, touch fruit wood, are looking okay, so we’ll order more local varieties to replace the plums. I’ve also read that the rootstock M116 is a good choice for wetter sites than the MM106 we have the rest of the small orchard apples on, so I’ll try and track down somewhere that sells that rootstock.

First Plum Wine Bottled

Well the time passed a week ago for the third and final racking of the plum wine into a demijohn, with the last racking happening just before Christmas, into bottles. However, this week I’d noticed one of the demijohns had stopped bubbling, whilst the other two had slowed down to snail’s pace.

Today was the day to see if the fermentation had indeed stopped – out came the various bits of rubber hose, plastic pipe and sanitising powder. Decanting some off into a sample tube, the hydrometer read just under 1.000, so bottling was on! Five bottles later, we’d racked as much as we dared from the one demijohn, and as I use the ridiculous method of sucking on the hose to get the wine to flow, I’m sure I drank a fair amount – enough to get me out of school pick up! I really do need to work out a better system – young wine isn’t that bad from this experience, but then it isn’t that good either! Hopefully, if we can manage, it’ll stay in the bottle to mature for a year, although I suspect that bottle on the left, with the big air gap, will need drinking fairly sharpish!

Plum Wine Stage 2

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Plum juice after adding sugar, lemon juice and yeast

So here we are, four days after first adding our plums to the plastic barrel and adding water to what will become our plum wine. We’ve stirred them twice a day (well  stirred in the morning and given the barrel a good shake in the evening), and today it’s time for these steps:

6. Add the sugar and stir vigorously to dissolve.
7. Add lemon juice and the packet of wine yeast and put the lid on.
8. Store somewhere warm. After a few hours you’ll notice something starting to happen… there’ll be a froth on the surface as the yeast starts to ferment, turning the sugar into alcohol. Stir the contents twice a day.
Yeast close-up

Yeast close-up


Four kilos of demerara sugar went into this barrel, three teaspoons of lemon juice, and the sachet of wine yeast. Firstly I stirred the sugar in like crazy – demerara being a bit chunky. Then the lemon juice and yeast – it says don’t bother stirring these in, but as we have so many lumpy plums still floating on top, I decided to stir gently. The floating lumpy bits are the plums that were still slightly unripe I’m guessing – there weren’t many, but enough to coat the surface in a layer of plum.

Place somewhere warm

Place somewhere warm

Once the lid’s back on tight, the whole thing was lifted on to the work surface above the boiler (somewhere warm) to start its business. It’ll stay there, much to the chagrin of Suz, in the middle of the kitchen, for five days, until it’s ready to siphon off into demijohns.

Plum Wine Recipe – Stage 1

2015 PlumsAnyone would think we drink a lot. The irony is we don’t! Having said that, when nature throws a surplus at you in the form of plums, there is only so much you can humanly eat before you turn to preserving the plumly bounty. Suz has made a few litres of gorgeous plum jam – I know because not all of it made it to the jars 😉 But it’s been such an amazing year that the little Victoria plum tree we planted 7 years ago is so full that some of the branches are reaching the ground! We planted it alongside a Bountiful apple tree, both on dwarfing rootstock so they wouldn’t grow past 9 feet each, as we thought at the time that was all we would have space for and they’d be enough for us. Having seen what they can do, it makes me realise that we need a plan of action for the fruit from the orchard in the near future! At this rate maybe we need to start thinking of applying for a license!

So with the jam jars full, it occured to us to follow the same route as our neighbours and make some plum wine. My only foray into wine-making territory was as  a student, when I attempted rhubarb wine. With a taste and smell akin to dry-on-the-nose vomit, it turned me away from wine-making and towards cheap wine from the local off-license. I’m older now – I’ve overcome my fear and, regardless, we have an awful lot of plums to find a use for. The plum wine recipe I’m going to use is as below, with alterations made to fit our kit. I have ‘borrowed’ it from this site – the chap seems very helpful with his comments and I like the ‘no fuss’ approach. I’m not looking for something quick to drink – I don’t mind waiting, and I’m keen on the less-is-more approach when it comes to additives.

Equipment needed
One 5 gallon plastic fermentation barrel with lid
Something for stirring the contents (we use a long plastic spoon made for the purpose)
Something to sterlise the equipment with (I use Young’s Steriliser & Cleaner powder)
Long clear plastic tubing (available from DIY stores)
3 x 1 gallon demijohns
3 x Demijohn bungs and airlocks (I use rubber and cork, no preference yet)
18 wine bottles (ideally clear glass)
18 corks (we’re using reuseable wax corks)
Ingredients needed
15lbs (6.75 kilos) of healthy plums
9lbs (4 kilos) of sugar
3 gallons of water
3 teaspoons of lemon juice
Wine yeast (1 x 5g pack of dried wine yeast)
1. Sterilise the fermentation barrel and lid using the Sterliser & Cleaner powder (instructions on the tub)
2. Wash the plums, cut in half to check for maggots. I’m using the stones, some remove them.
3. Place in fermentation barrel.
4. Bring water to boil and pour in fermentation barrel.
5. Put the lid on and leave for four days, stirring twice daily.
6. Add the sugar and stir vigorously to dissolve.
7. Add lemon juice and the packet of wine yeast and put the lid on.
8. Store somewhere warm. After a few hours you’ll notice something starting to happen… there’ll be a froth on the surface as the yeast starts to ferment, turning the sugar into alcohol. Stir the contents twice a day.
9. After five days transfer the liquid to the demijohns using the plastic tubing and funnel. Make sure all the equipment has been sterilised.
10. Avoiding disturbing any sediment, place the fermentation barrel at a higher level than a demijohn (e.g. put the barrel on a table and a demijohn on the floor), put one end of the plastic tubing in the barrel, and having placed the funnel in the neck of a demijohn give the other end of the tubing a strong suck to pull some of the wine in the tube up and over the edge of the barrel. Quickly remove your mouth and put the tube end into the funnel. The wine should start to drain.
11. Stop removing liquid when you get close to the bottom so you transfer as little of the sediment as possible. Once all the liquid is in a demijohn top up with water to bring to a gallon if you need to – but don’t try and make a gallon from 3/4 of a gallon of plum juice! Seal with a bung and airlock. Some people add something like Milton to the airlock, but I tend not to incase there’s a reverse pull on the liquid and it taints the wine. I prefer to replace the airlock regularly with a sterlised one.
12. You can now store the wine for months somewhere cool and frost free. At first the fermentation may start up again and you’ll see bubbles going through the airlock. Gradually the wine will clear.
13. Once fully clear repeat the draining process, this time from the demijohn to sterilised wine bottles. Put a stopper in each bottle and store.
14. The wine will be ready to drink after twelve months.

I’m at stage 5,  stirring twice daily, and already thinking about the next batch! I’ve read that if you can leave it for three years then that’s ideal, but I just know that won’t happen, so if you make plenty then some will be bound to remain on a shelf somewhere until then. I think the secret is to make more than you think you need to ensure a glut 🙂
In case it’s helpful, we use two brewing suppliers. Our local shop is very helpful and also has an online presence, at
For our cider kit we use