The satisfaction of growing, harvesting and eating your own fruit is one of the great pleasures of gardening. Fruit of some kind are grown in most of our home gardens, and in Whanganui, a wide range of fruit can be grown.
On large sections there can be sufficient room to devote an area solely for fruit, either as an orchard with formal rows of trees, bushes, canes etc, or as an informal mix of different fruit types.
In a small garden if space is limited, fruit could be incorporated into the garden by growing a grape vine over a pergola; citrus trees in pots or a passion-fruit vine against a sunny fence.
Whether you are planning an entire fruit garden, or choosing just two or three different fruit, make sure you select plants that will thrive in the soil and the climatic conditions at your place. Fruit we have found to grow particularly well in our district and can be planted now are apples, plums, feijoas, blueberries, avocado, citrus, figs, olives, quinces, gooseberries, cranberries, guavas, grapes, walnuts, hazelnuts and persimmons.
Feijoas are a fruit that I have always associated with Autumn. The mornings are cool, the days are clear and there is the sweet fragrance of Feijoa in the garden. The fruit falls to the ground when ripe. It can be eaten fresh, cut in half and scooped out with a spoon, or it can be stewed, it is delicious when mixed with stewed apple.
There are a great number of feijoa recipes around including loafs and muffins and even a delicious relish that can be used in many kitchen dishes. If you are looking for feijoa recipes, then check out this website https://feijoafeijoa.wordpress.com/recipes/
Feijoa plants grow exceptionally well in Whanganui. They can be planted as a tough, coastal, hardy ornamental, for its red pohutukawa-like flowers, and as a hedge for shelter, where fruit quality is not a consideration.
Feijoas ripen between April and June and grow to approximately 3m tall. Most varieties need to be planted in twos for cross pollination but 'Unique' is a self fertile variety, requiring only one to be planted for good fruit production.
A more unusual feijoa is the variety 'Bambina'. An ultra small growing plant reaching a maximum size of approximately 1.5m x 1.5m. The fruit are delicate and mini in form with a thin, edible skin. Inside the aromatic pulp is sweet and bursting with flavour. Bambina is great in pots, court yards or as a small dividing hedge in an edible garden.
Three other varieties that I recommend and grow well in Whanganui are;
Feijoa Unique; traditionally one of the most popular feijoa varieties grown in NZ because it is self fertile. It is a prolific bearer of fruit from a young age of medium size with smooth soft and juicy flesh. Early season bearer.
Feijoa Wiki Tu is a partially self fertile variety with only one needing to be planted for fruit production, although another variety can result in a increased crop. Wiki-Tu has huge fruit on a smaller growing (2.5m) easily managed tree, sweet and fleshy fruit with a firm texture and good keeping qualities. It is ideal for home gardens and fruits later in the season.
Feijoa Apollo; A mid season fruiter which produces fruit which is large and very sweet. It is a strong growing tree with rough skinned fruit. Planting with another variety will improve pollination and a larger fruit size.
I have selected these three as a good 'early producer', a good 'mid season' producer and a good 'late season' producer. Planting a range of varieties will ensure you can have fruit ready from March to June.
Gareth Carter is General Manager of Springvale Garden Centre