There’s no greater sight when you look at your fruit bearing trees to see them laden with fruit. It’s one of the joys of growing fruit in your garden. But natural drop or windy conditions can sometimes lead to a mass of fallen apples, that are rotten or bruised. So, what do you do with a mass of rotting fallen apples?

Windy woes

Now with any bountiful fruit, it’s likely that there’s going to be some bruised or rotting produce amongst your windfall through the season. Typically, this is brought about by the wind itself where a gust of wind has plucked the fruit from the branches and dropped it on the ground. So, the question remains, what do you do with the fruit that has fallen? Well for this collection of bruised or rotting fruit, I have a few suggestions on what you can do with it.

wind leading to apples falling out of trees

Composting fallen apples

You could add the fallen fruit to the compost heap as and when they fall. Doing this would supply nitrogen as a ‘green’ material to the mix. However, in late summer or autumn, there may be a larger amount of fruit to incorporate in the mix. If this is the case, adding them all to the heap can add too much nitrogen, and therefore slow down the process and lead to a mushy consistency. Something you don’t really want.

So, what I suggest is to create a balance by adding brown materials like straw, cardboard, shredded paper, and fallen brown leaves. This can be added with a layer of apples, then a layer of carboard and repeated. It’s a tiered compost cake if you like. With this approach it’s ideal to cut the apples and the cardboard into smaller pieces which will help the materials breakdown more easily and encourage the compost process along.

Unless you are starting your own brewery, don’t let the fruit ferment in my example, apples, ferment or produce an unpleasant aroma. A compost recipe of one-part apples to two-part brown material will reduce the likelihood of this happening.

Composting fallen apples

Trenching the fruit

There is another method used to rid large gluts of apples, this is what’s known as trenching. This does need quite a bit of space though, so isn’t suited for every garden. This process is exactly what it sounds like, which involves a trench of around 30cm deep being dug to accommodate a depth of around 10-15cm of apples. These can then be covered with the soil that was initially removed to dig the trench.

Though this will create a mound on top of the surface, this will gradually sink as the apples decompose. Bear in mind that this isn’t an instant technique and will have to stay in place for around two years for the fruits to decompose.

Digging apples into a trench

Keep an eye out

Whatever you choose to do with the fallen apples, it’s best to not leave them on the ground. They maybe harbour pests or diseases that could spread. Leaving rotting apples on the ground can result in a fungal disease known as brown rot or Monilinia fruitigena. This can then overwinter and lead to an infection in the tree the following season.

The sugar in the fruits is also attractive to wasps, just like fruit juices and cider are. In fact, cider is made from fermented sugars which is why they find fermenting apples so appealing. Whether you’ve got small children in the house, or just want to avoid stepping on a wasp, you’ll want to pick up the fruit as soon as possible.

rotting apple among healthy apples

So, remember pickup your fallen fruits to keep your garden healthy. Pick up rotting fallen apples and dispose of them in your compost bin or by trenching if you have the space.

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