Pruning and cleaning the apple espalier

One of my favorite plantings in the garden at Ranch du Bois consists of three apples, each espalier with 6 different apple varieties.

It takes a little work to stay on top of the pruning but I don’t mind. I find whacking away at living things with sharp instruments is kind of, well, liberating. So, today, I spent an hour liberating my apples of suckers, too many shoots, dead leaves and excessive foliage. Darn good thing, because in that mess of greenery was an infestation of cottony scale. It looks like someone sprayed the branches (clustered and unthinned) with a can of fake Christmas snow. ICKY.

Step one: clean it up and prune out all the unwanted greenery and weak wood.
Step two: remove all the trimmings and clean pruners in rubbing alcohol of clorox. For awhile. Like, 10 minutes.
Step three: wonder what the hell to do next since I am growing FRUIT and don’t want to use something ghastly nasty like malathion. This is the second year for this problem. I’ve got to keep these branches open to the light and air.

If you have any great ideas on dealing with cottony scale or whatever it is, let me know. I’ll be over by the raspberries snacking away.