This was my first interview with the awesome Russ Metge who is always so generous with his knowledge of fruit tree care and pruning back on Mar 25, 2015.
Proper fruit tree pruning
Russ Metge from Simply Trees is here to share his journey as a business owner where he does’t just prune trees but also educates his clients on the importance of proper fruit tree pruning in Salt Lake City, UT.
Russ Metge is a professional Horticulturist with a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from Brigham Young U-Idaho. He is a husband and father of three, with a fourth child on the way. He owns and operates Simply Trees, a pruning business in Salt Lake City that specializes in fruit tree pruning and horticultural pruning of other specialty trees, vines, and shrubs like Japanese Maples, grapes, roses, raspberries etc. He loves working outdoors, and the only thing he likes more than pruning fruit trees is teaching others how to prune fruit trees with his on-site, one-on-one fruit tree pruning workshops where clients learn how to prune fruit trees with there very own trees as examples. When Russ is not pruning trees he enjoys connecting with like minded gardeners online via Twitter, Facebook and his blog which can be found at www.simplytreesut.blogspot.com
Tell me about your first gardening experience?
Mom always had a garden, came from gardening family… grandmother.
What does organic gardening/earth friendly mean to you?
Gardening is organic, putting seeds in the ground the whole process is organic so instead of using lots of chemical pesticides and fertilizers your making a more sustainable way of growing plants.
Pesticides are kinda like drugs for your garden, and then your garden becomes dependent on them to get the same results. Organic is working with nature and more sustainable.
Link to Rodale Farm Trial
Who or what inspired you to start using organic techniques?
Not how Russ grew up. When in school, getting horticulture degree.
Don’t necessarily dive in deep on any one subject, get a general idea on how plants grow, landscaped design, floral design etc.
“Integrative pest management” – uses a combination of methods to keep pests under control in your garden.
Tree pruning for organic gardening
Important to prune fruit trees every year.
By pruning trees it minimizes the need for pest control.
A tree that hasn’t been pruned in years, will have broken branches, fire blight and other diseases, and they are so thick of branches which make a great hiding place for pests. Birds can’t get into eat as many insects in an overgrown tree. Lots of fungus that attack fruit trees like powdery mildew and other fungus in the garden is to ensure that the leaves stay dry.It also helps cut out dead and dying diseased branches that stimulate new growth for future years.
Prune in winter or early spring before leaves
Check out his 8-step method on his blog as well as biology and why the tree reacts to what your doing what your doing.
Start Now. It’s an investment that’s gonna take some time and take a while to get them established.
Fruit cocktail trees have more then one fruit on them, multiple apples or peach, plum, apricot etc.
Most fruit trees can be grown in a pot.
Espalier fruit trees where you grow it up against a wall or a fence.
Columnar apple tree that grows straight up which are very prolific.
Do recommend buying fruit trees with bare roots. Lots of problems can come from being in the pot.
A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.
Pruning saw – has a curved blade with teeth that can cut through large branches.
Love hand pruners, could use the saw if I had to.
Big loppers two handed shears, can’t climb a tree or carry on a ladder.
Climbing a tree is much safer, then using a ladder because you eventually start reaching and you are more likely to fall.
Pole pruner – extendable pole that goes about 15 feet – with a rope that has a bypass cutting blade that will reach out to taller branches.
Occasionally use a chain saw.
Want to keep tree small enough that you can reach fruit from a 6 foot ladder.
Eating or harvesting fruit on time?
When it’s time to harvest its time to harvest. If you wait a little longer fruit can be sweeter but then you can be competing with other animals like birds, suggest that you pick it a bit green and then let it ripen in the house.
Do you have any secrets for preserving food-making it last?
Grew up eating bottled fruit with grilled cheese sandwiches. Bottled peaches, pears, plums, apple sauce.
A favorite internet resource?
Twitter – attend chats hashtag #treechat or #plantchat and meet friends who are like-minded
A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can
The Vegetable Gardeners Bible by Edward C. Smith
If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra produce or get started in the industry?
Get started and be patient, be prepared to start small. Don’t mortgage the home to start a business, keep it simple, small and it will grow organically and as long as you have a good product and service and in the right niche it will grow.
Final question- if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the earth either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
Writing a book on how fruit tree pruning can ultimately save the world. Problems we have in the world today is linked to sustainable agriculture and how growing an orchard in your backyard is much more sustainable and also the problem with the bees.
(note about deer interruption – Russ suggested I leave it in so I did… the deer just happened to sneak into our yard while I was recording and I had to yell for Mike to run them off:)
Do u have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?
More is better, less is more, therefore less is better. Keep it simple.
Reach out to Russ at www.simplytreesut.blogspot.com
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