When Joanna Glovinsky saw a need for a fruit tree-specific care and education service in her area, she decided to create one herself. Combining her degree in health and social change with a lot of gardening experience and a little sass, LA-based Fruitstitute was born. “Now we’re the only fruit tree-specific business for backyard growers in greater Los Angeles,” says Glovinksy. “We’re educating and empowering locals to read their tree’s needs and grow really great fruit.”
While a petite woman in her early thirties might not be what first comes to mind when you picture an arborist, Glovinsky is here to shake up the industry. With playful branding, a diverse team, and a forthcoming “Fruitstitution” (an online fruit tree education portal), this five-month-old start-up is changing the game — and making Southern California just a little tastier in the process. As we head into the fall planting period — a perfect time for completing outdoor home projects — Glovinsky shared with Yelp her top five tips for growing backyard fruit in Los Angeles and beyond.
Fruitstitute’s Top Five Tips for Growing Delicious Fruit
Create healthier soil to bear healthier fruit
In general, the better the fruit tastes, the more nutritious it is — and the more nutritious the fruit, the healthier the soil. Studies show that crops grown today are measurably less nutritious than those grown decades ago. And compost is king when it comes to building healthy soil. Compost adds biology to the soil — the microbial life that makes vitamins and minerals available for plant roots to consume.
Mulch goes hand and hand with compost. Fruit trees in particular love woody mulch. A good thick layer of wood chip mulch works to insulate soil from extreme temperatures (and therefore roots), reduces water evaporation, and keeps the sun from zapping out that rich microbial life.
Focus on slow and deep irrigation
A slow and steady flow will give you the biggest bang for your buck. You want to deep water your fruit trees, which means water should penetrate below and beyond the root zone of the tree. Think of the soil like a towel. A slow and steady drip of water onto a towel will eventually saturate the whole towel until it’s fully soaked and very heavy. Whereas a quick hard flow of water will result in lots of water runoff and parts of the towel may remain dry or only somewhat saturated.
Control the size of your canopy
A canopy that is crowded by elements in the landscape doesn’t have enough space to grow. In general, there should be at least a few inches of clearance between the canopy and other plants and/or hardscape. The size of a tree canopy roughly indicates the size of the root mass. So crowding above usually means there’s crowding below as well. Both have equally negative effects on the health of your trees.
And make sure the canopy is clean
A clean tree canopy is free of dead wood and debris. This includes dead leaves, rotten fruit, bugs, and other icky stuff. Dead wood and debris attract bugs, bacteria, and fungus, which in a natural environment are there to break down organic waste and return it back to the soil. But because our fruit trees are not designed for forest life and the backyard garden is a manmade ecosystem, it’s not a good idea to invite these bugs into your home. They can quickly colonize your living plants and, if left unchecked, can severely compromise the health of your tree and the entire garden ecosystem.
Thin out fruit for healthier trees
Fruit thinning, the practice of removing immature fruit, not only makes your fruit tastier, but it’s also important for the health of young trees, overbearing trees, and for any branch being weighed down by the weight of its fruit. A tree that spends too much on fruit production does so at the expense of other growth (like roots, stems, and foliage).
Apart from health, thinning is especially important for proper development of size and flavor of the fruit. That’s because one branch only has so much energy to give to each fruit growing on it. When thinning, leave one fruit per every few inches or so, and more energy will go to each! You gotta thin it to win it.
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