We have passed the shortest day and already some change in day length is noticeable.

July is the time of the year when new season's supplies of trees and fruits arrive at garden centres. Growing a few fruit trees in the home garden is an easy thing to do.

A staple fruit for school lunches for decades and one of the most popular trees to grow in the home garden, apple trees are a great tree to grow. In recent years a number of apple varieties have undergone research which has shown some varieties as having very high levels of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds – with potential cancer preventing properties.

This brings a scientific basis to the old adage 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away'. One such apple variety that has shown high levels of the beneficial compounds is Monty's Surprise.

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This is a crisp late ripening apple that is great for cooking, but only eat it fresh if you enjoy a tart flavor! The fruit can be very large on a vigorous, disease hardy tree. Fruit is shiny red over a light green background.

A newly released apple variety that goes highly recommended for the home garden is Apple 'Roy's Pearl'. Be one of the first in the world to have this in your garden - bred from a cross between 'NZ Rose' and 'Liberty'. Exceptional parents with NZ Rose being famous for texture and taste and Liberty is the ultimate in a healthy apple tree, resistant to black spot, rust and powdery mildew.

'Roy's Pearl' eats extremely well. A future favourite for those that like a well balance (not too sweet, not too sharp) apple. It fruits mid-season and can be stored for up to two months.

This modern disease-resistant variety is a easy to grow reliable cropper. We highly recommended for those who want fruit with minimal input.

I am an advocate for growing peaches, nectarines and apricots particularly in the home garden. This is because the commercial practice to ensure these fruits are still saleable when they get to the shop shelves requires that it needs to be picked before it is ready.

If the fruit wasn't harvested till it was ripe it would then be rotten once it got to the stores.

Unfortunately unlike pears and apples that will ripen once picked from a tree, peaches & nectarines do not continue to ripen as they would on the tree. They need to be on the tree for the natural sugar content to continue to rise to optimum maturity. If you have ever picked a ripe nectarine or peach from a tree then you will have experienced the incredible flavour, taste and texture that you can achieve when you grow your own fruit.

There is a nectarine and peach tree for every size garden, from the 'traditional' tree growing 3-4 metres to some amazing high producing dwarf varieties that develop a small head (approximately 60x60cm) on a 80cm stem like a topiary. I have two of these such trees in pots on my patio and it is a thrill to harvested fruit from them each summer. This is a fantastic result for a young tree. These dwarf trees are well suited to growing in pots if you do not have room in the garden and are all self fertile.

Not only are they good eating but the trees themselves are attractive with spring blossom, usually pink as well as an attractive form through out the rest of the year.

Here are some good dwarf varieties that can be grown in pots or in the garden;

Nectarine Flavourzee; yellow fleshed fruit of good size, mid season
Nectarine Garden Delight; juicy freestone fruit, red skin & yellow flesh late Jan
Nectarine Nectar Babe; sweet juicy yellow flesh freestone, early maturing
Peach Garden Lady; large yellow skinned fruit, sweet juicy yellow fleshed fruit marked red, freestone
Peach Pixzee; Yellow flesh, good flavoured fruit.
Peach Rose Chiffon; white fleshed, freestone fruit.
Peach Honey Babe; med- large fruit, sweet juicy flesh with a tangy flavour, red skin with hint of yellow, freestone

More on fruits to tickle your taste buds in later articles! Have a good Week.

Gareth Carter is General Manager of Springvale Garden Centre