Fresh fruit is one of the best pleasures of gardening
Autumn is often touted as the best time of the year for planting.
The slogan "nature's natural planting time" is often used for this season of the year.
Excluding some soft frost tender plants which are better left for planting in the spring, autumn is the best time for making new plantings for most trees and shrubs. Planting in the autumn allows plants to develop their root systems well into the soil before the hot, dry summer months arrive again. New plantings made close to the summer months can often struggle to get established unless intensive watering is maintained.
One of my pet topics for discussion is the growing, harvesting and eating of your own fruit. I think it is one of the great pleasures of gardening. Here are some fruits that are good for planting out now.
Blueberries - a much enjoyed fruit, the berries are pleasant eaten fresh and may be cooked in pies, muffins, jams and hot fruit sauces. The fruit ripens between December and March. Though often an expensive fruit to buy, as garden plants they are easy to grow and crop well in the home garden. The plants themselves are quite decorative growing about 1m. Like rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias they are acid soil loving shrubs. For maximum cropping potential plant two different varieties.
Citrus - includes lemons, oranges, grapefruit, mandarins and tangelos which are best known, and limes, kumquats and lemonade fruit (a sweet lemon hybrid) are also worth growing in the garden. Most are good tub or container subjects which is useful when space for a fruit garden is limited. Citrus left to grow without pruning usually form naturally well-shaped trees and produce good crops. Removal of dead, damaged or tangled branches is the main pruning requirement for the majority of citrus varieties. Lemons do benefit from a light prune or trim just after harvest. Most citrus may be lightly pruned or headed back at the time of planting to assist their establishment. Pruning cuts should be treated with pruning paste such as Yates Bacseal to help healing and prevent infection and pest attack.
A large proportion of good fruit is borne around the outside of citrus trees, so this should only have a light prune. Allow enough space for the lawnmower and maintenance access. It is important to keep the area under trees clear of fallen mouldy fruit, which can spread infection back onto the trees. Citrus trees can be pruned at any time of the year and it is usually most convenient when the fruit is being harvested.
Raspberries - there are a number of varieties available but one of exceptional quality is Raspberry Aspiring. This brilliant variety is a dual cropper fruiting in both summer and autumn. Summer fruits are on last year's canes, where winter chill is adequate. Autumn fruit is produced on the top 10-20 buds of new canes. Aspiring has large dark red conical firm fruit with excellent flavour. It has been developed by Plant & Food Research NZ. This raspberry grows as a bramble on upright canes. Covered with rose-type leaves, simple small white flowers are followed by luscious sweet delicate fruit. This is the prize that causes eager berry lovers to flock to pick-your-own patches. A strong and productive plant, which spreads fast and is one of the easiest of all to grow.
Feijoas - grow and fruit well in Whanganui, a delicious easy to grow backyard fruit tree that requires little or no care and does not seem to be susceptible to any pests or diseases. It is often planted for its multi purpose attributes; of being a good fruit and as an ornamental for its red pohutukawa-like flowers and as a hedge for shelter. Feijoas ripen between April and June and grow approximately 3m tall, the trees can be kept pruned to a much smaller size if desired. Many varieties need to be planted in twos for cross pollination
Here are some good varieties for growing in Wanganui:
Feijoa descriptions below courtesy of Waimea nurseries.
Feijoa Unique is traditionally one of the most popular feijoa varieties grown in New Zealand 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 mid-late in the season.
Feijoa Bambina is a recently released dwarf variety growing only 1.5m x 1.5m. It produces miniature sized fruit which can be eaten skin and all. It suits small gardens as well as being excellent for growing in containers with its abundance of bright red Christmas flowers followed by delicate wee fruit. Thin edible skin surrounding sweet aromatic pulp bursting with flavour. No need for the spoon! Mid-season harvest, April to May. Description provided by incredible edibles.
Feijoa Dens Choice is a plant of good growth habit that is mid season fruiting with excellent, large, sweet fruit. One of the best varieties for eating. Quite drought tolerant. Description provided from JBarr Nurseries.
¦ Figs grow well in a sunny, sheltered spot in the home garden. They like plenty of water and bear their heaviest crops when roots are restricted. Figs prefer a heavier soil. If left to their devices, they grow 3-6m tall and spread. Fruit is harvested from late December to April. Figs are deciduous and bear fruit that range from yellow to green to purplish black.
Other fruits which grow well in Whanganui gardens include apples pears, peaches, olives, plums, quinces, gooseberries, cranberries, guavas, kiwifruit, grapes, walnuts, hazelnuts and persimmons.
Happy Gardening!
Gareth Carter is General Manager of Springvale Garden Centre