5 Tips for Increasing Fruit Tree Vigor and Production

Aloha Everyone,

Here’s a video that we put together to show you how we brought vigorous health to some very old, neglected fruit trees that were here on the land when we arrived.

Please watch this video for our 5 tips that will help you bring health to a fruit tree near you!



Alternately, here’s the text from this video, so you may read the information if you like.


Aloha Everyone,
This is Elizabeth with Aloha Farms food forest in sunny Southern California, where we  enjoy growing citrus fruit year-round.  The 5 decades-old trees that were here when we moved in hadn’t been cared for in a while, but we found that with a little TLC, we were able to bring them back to outstanding health and they now produce some of the juiciest, most delicious fruit I’ve ever had.
Healthy trees are less likely to attract harmful pests.  Our beautiful citrus trees were recently tested by the County of San Diego Department of Agriculture, when they placed traps in the trees for 6 weeks during January and February 2016 to see if they could trap exotic fruit flies, asian citrus psyllids, and other unwanted pests.  They found that our trees had no pests – which is really great news.
Here are 4 things we did to improve the health of the dear old citrus trees:
1. Pruning – cut off dead or dying branches and stems, remove leaves or stems that are infested with bugs like scale or white fly, remove new growth from the interior of the tree to improve air circulation.  These “Water Sprouts” grow vertically from lateral branches and can be removed entirely or pruned above a node to re-direct their growth.
2. Cover the soil under the tree in organic material, which feeds and protects the life-forms that grow in the soil allowing them to proliferate safely under the covering. This also moderates the soil temperature so that it doesn’t get too hot or too cold, and finally, helps retain the soil moisture by preventing it from evaporating.
3. Sprinkle the soil with epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) before a rain so that  the rain will wash it into the soil.  This really invigorates the trees.
4.  Insert into the ground under the tree a 2′ – 3′ piece of ABS pipe or other pipe that’s 2″-3″ in diameter, leaving 2″ or so above the soil level.  This will be your watering pipe, so you can water directly into the pipe with a hose, and the water will go right down to the roots.  Before we installed our watering pipes, we could water for an hour on top of the soil, and it wouldn’t penetrate deeply into the root zone, so we definitely found this to be a tremendous improvement.  We can fill the pipe a few times, and we have deep water penetration of the root zone.
5.  This last tip I discovered, and it works well against flying insects that love to feed on new leaf growth.  During periods of rapid new leaf growth, if the weather is dry, come out in the late afternoon/early evening and shower off the trees’ foliage with water from a hose.  Whatever flying insects are on the tree will instantly fly away to go find drier places.  I do this in the early evening so that the water won’t quickly evaporate from the leaves and the insects will stay away while the leaves are wet – and hopefully decide not to come back!  This also washes off dust and the trees seem to enjoy a good shower – just like we do 🙂
That’s it for now – I hope this information helps any of you who are growing fruit!  Thank you for watching, and Aloha!!!

How we saved our oranges from splitting open before ripening – and you can too!

More on the value of Epsom salt:

We don’t have any “before” pictures of our old orange tree with the hanging fruit all split open and inedible.  Funny, I never thought pictures of these ugly fruits would come in handy for a post one day!   If you want to see how they look, you can search for “split oranges on tree” images online to find lots of shots of oranges with the rinds splitting open.  It’s a common problem.

After researching on the mighty internet and reading multiple websites about why oranges split, we find many theories:

  1. Tree too young – nope – our tree is probably over 30 years old with a thick trunk.
  2. Too many fruits – nope – it didn’t have all that much fruit.
  3. Inconsistent watering – nope – we deep watered it and kept it evenly moist for about six months, but the fruits still split and still you couldn’t squeeze a drop of juice from these dry oranges.
  4. Mineral deficiency… nope – We had recently fertilized with a citrus fertilizer and added an extra layer of mulch under the tree canopy.
  5. Hmmm….

Then suddenly inspiration came  – Epsom Salt would heal the tree!   So thankful for those moments of inspiration! Just quietly ask for an answer, and the answer will come 🙂

It’s funny I didn’t think of it sooner, because as everyone who has ever complained of a physical ailment in my presence knows, my go-to remedy is an epsom salt bath.  That and a good rest, and usually the person is much improved.

I generously sprinkled about 4 cups of Epsom salt on the ground under the large old orange tree canopy and watered it in.  Use enough Epsom salt to sprinkle under the canopy, and the very best time to sprinkle Epsom salt is before a rain event, so the rain can dissolve it and wash it into the soil.   It’s always best to use a light sprinkle and add another sprinkle later if needed so you can see how the tree reacts.  I have never had a problem using too much Epsom salt with my sprinkle method.

A bag of Epsom Salt
A bag of Epsom Salt

It seems like a miracle because in the 4 years we’ve lived here, we never had nice fruit from this tree.  We were just happy enjoying the blossoms and accepting the false belief that this tree just doesn’t produce good fruit. – LOL   Here’s how the oranges look now….

The oranges are ripening happily with no splitting after receiving their epsom salt treatment.

Here’s something just for fun…a close-up of a busy bee.

A bee visits an orange blossom on our happy orange tree
A bee visits an orange blossom on our happy orange tree – cuteness!!!

That’s it – if you have this splitting oranges problem – use Epsom salts  – and let me know if it works for you!



Ripe Oranges - they turned out so juicy and sweet
Ripe Oranges – they turned out so juicy and sweet
Roots Grow Fruits by Joe Ceraso
Roots Grow Fruits!