OCEANSIDE — MiraCosta College horticulture students took advantage of resources coming together in February and planted a citrus grove in early celebration of Arbor Day.
“It’s the best time of year to plant,” Ben Jacques, college sophomore, said.
While it is technically still winter, sunny Southern California weather stretches planting season to nearly year round.
Jacques and fellow soil science students planted a dozen citrus trees outside the college cafeteria Feb. 26. Planting was done during class hours as a hands-on lesson.
Earlier in the week another class of horticulture students prepared the strategically spaced planting holes.
The fruit trees sit on dirt mounds between decorative rocks. Undetectable to the viewer are numerous fiber optic, water and power lines beneath the ground.
During planting students shared a solid knowledge of the importance of berm height, drainage, planting distance from the building and the drip irrigation system to be completed by the campus grounds crew.
The trees will take two years to mature and produce a steady supply of oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes and kumquats. Future plans are to use the fruit for classroom instruction and to help stock the on campus food bank. The college grounds crew will maintain the 12 trees as an organic garden.
“It will take a couple years for the citrus trees to begin to bear fruit,” Megan Allison, horticulture instructor and project coordinator, said. “Once they do, the students should be able to eat fruit straight from the trees.”
The planting project came together through the support of the Horticulture Department, Netafim irrigation, California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention or Cal Fire, and the city of Oceanside.
Students planned the citrus garden a year ago. Allison said additional planning and coordination took place between the department, college administration and grounds crew to bring the plan to fruition.
The newly planted trees hold numerous benefits.
“They clean the air and water, capture stormwater, provide shade, reduce temperatures and provide fruit,” Lynnette Short, Cal Fire forestry assistant, said.
As part of the day’s event a history of Arbor Day was shared, and Oceanside was recognized as a tree friendly city.