Tyler Trimble Presents Fruit Trees and Soil as a Living Thing

| March 5, 2022 | 0 Comments

In January, the Missions Hills Garden Club attended a Zoom presentation about back yard fruit trees given by Tyler Trimble, also known as Mr. Tree.  Trimble, a third-generation farmer, and his family live in Bonsall where his “home orchard is a food forest.”  Trimble’s talk focused on how to get maximum year-round production from your garden.  This involves how to select the right plants, where to put them, how to plant them, and how to maintain them

Selecting the right plants is essential.  Your favorite species of fruit or vegetable may be a factor, but Trimble stresses knowing when the plant is ready for harvest.  Its cycle is of paramount importance if you want a specific product for as long a season as possible.  Stone fruits such as peaches, plums, and apricots go dormant in December and January. This is also a good time for planting bare root trees. He advises selecting varieties that ripen at various times in the season.  You want to stagger the harvests. Some may bear fruit as early as late May. Others may be producing in August, September, or even October.

Where to plant is another important factor. In the past, trees were planted between ten and twenty feet apart. Recent research has shown that trees benefit from being planted close together, perhaps six to eight feet trunk to trunk, allowing the leaves of one touch the leaves of the next tree. This makes harvesting, watering, and propagation easier while providing shade for plants that burn in sun. 

Plants should occupy space productively.  Adding “cover crops like beans, clover, and buckwheat – and smelly pollinator plants like rosemary and lavender” bring nitrogen to the soil and attract pollinators. 

Trees might occupy higher ground while bushes and vines may be better at lower levels. Planter boxes and pots are good for vegetables and flowers and occupy space productively. 

Healthy soil is the key to good maintenance.  Trimble says, “Care for your soil as if it is a living thing.”  Our garden soil can be as productive as the soil in a forest with certain prerequisites.  Healthy soil invites worms, contains minerals and vitamins enriching plants’ nutrition.  Furthermore, plants thrive when the soil’s temperature remains between 60 and 85 degrees.  To maintain this temperature, Trimble recommends three inches of mulch made from chips of bark. Pitch and oils in pine and eucalyptus are not recommended.  Contrary to popular belief, mulched fields watered by fanning sprays (as are commercial fields) use far less water than a drip system.  Tree trunks do not mind water; but watering only one portion of the tree with a drip system will do more harm than good.  Roots can only take in water at their tips; excess water in other places may cause rot. 

To tell if your soil is receiving the right amount of water, dig about three inches down into the soil and gather a nice handful.  Squeeze it.  If water comes out, your soil is too wet. If the soil crumbles or sifts out of your hand, it is too dry.  Perfectly watered soil will hold together much as dough does when it is ready to roll out.  This is how your soil should be everywhere you plan to grow.  Trimble’s solution for bare spots that you don’t want to water is “Stick a plant in it.” 

Pruning is another aspect of maintenance.  Trimble explained that deciduous trees like sunshine.  They tend to have narrower leaves which they shed annually.  Trees that keep their leaves such as citrus and avocados need shade to protect their bark from sunburn.  Avoid over-pruning trees with sensitive bark.  Do not open the citrus and avocado trees as you might some ornamental trees.  The leaves should provide shade for the bark.  You should not be able to see through them, but dappled light will filter through. 

Learn what kind of wood your trees need to produce fruit.  For example, peach trees fruit on old wood.  If you prune away a great deal of the old wood, your fruit production will be sparse.  Apples and pears produce fruit on spurs, the tips of branches.  It is wise to prune enough so the branches don’t collapse from the weight of too much fruit.  Figs produce fruit on new growth and might thrive with half of the old structure since the bark does not require shade.  Citrus also produce fruit on new branches but need shade for their bark. 

Gophers were another concern.  Gophers are hard to get rid of in a humane manner; poisons pollute our water table; baskets to keep gophers out not only don’t work, but they also are not good for the plant whose roots will grow through and around the cage.  The good news is that gophers bring the nutrients which have sunk far below the surface of the garden to the top.  The little mounds are rich, healthy soil.  Save it and use it!  Furthermore, if you mulch, water evenly, and fertilize occasionally, the soil will become healthy within a year; the gophers will leave as healthy soil does not make good tunnels because the tunnels collapse.

Trimble gave us scarier information.  Sadly, citrus trees throughout the world including Hillcrest have been invaded by Asian citrus psyllids (ACP).  The insect can be a carrier of a lethal bacteria.  There is no cure.  If you suspect your citrus tree has it, call (800) 491-1899.  You can get more information online at Californiacitrusthreat.org.

Trimble gave some final advice.  Plant trees directly in the soil, not pots.  A baby tree can live in a pot, but it must be in the soil before becoming rootbound or pushing roots through the holes in the pot’s bottom, rooting the pot to the soil.  Pots are good for “cutesy flowers” and vegetables.  Blueberries, he believes, should be in pots.  Berries grow on new canes and require little pruning.  Trimble says to prune grapes, you can “beat the crap out of them.”  Prune them to two to four buds.  To prevent birds from devouring fruits, Trimble uses mosquito netting laid on a frame high above the fruit.  If the frame is not high enough, birds will perch on it while eating fruit through the netting.  Anchor netting to the ground by burying it or using rocks.   

You can learn more on YouTube: “Mr. Trees,“ or email him:  Backyardfruit@outlook.com.

March 24 you can learn about companion plants for succulents during the Mission Hills Garden Club meeting, which takes place from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Mission Hills Church of Christ, located at 4070 Jackdaw Street.

Tyler Trimble’s recent presentation focused on how to get maximum year-round production from your garden.

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About the Author ()

Barbara Strona is a native Californian who grew up in the Mid-West and Los Angeles. She and her architect husband, Carl, came to San Diego in 1968 and have lived in Mission Hills since early 1971. Barbara received a Bachelor of Arts from Scripps College with a major in English, and a minor in Art. She attended UCLA graduate school and received a General Secondary Credential. She taught English in Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, and at Point Loma High School. She has been a Realtor specializing in residential sales since 1984. Her passions include her job, reading, writing, foreign languages and foreign countries, animals (feathered or furry), theatre, and her family: husband, two adult children and two grandsons.