April is the main month for the harvesting of feijoas.
This is the time when we come into an abundance of this delicious fruit.
Usually we would have a box of surplus fruit on the staff room table that a member would have brought into work to share.
This is not happening this year with the garden centre being closed while on level 4 lockdown.
I have always been a fan of eating feijoas fresh with a spoon and scoop method.
However, with an abundance of time at home this year, I can try experimenting in baking with feijoas.
A quick google brings an abundance of recipe options including a feijoa loaf, crumble, muffins, jam, chutney, poaching them as a dessert, salsa, ice-blocks, cake and making a strudel of it using pastry.
Feijoas grow and fruit well in Whanganui.
They are 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. It can be both a productive fruit tree, with attractive red pohutukawa-like flowers and/or planted as a hedge for shelter where it can handle some coastal exposure.
Feijoa fruit generally ripens between March and June.
The trees grow about 3m tall but can be kept pruned to a smaller size if desired.
Many varieties need to be planted in twos for cross pollination.
Here are some good varieties for growing in Whanganui:
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 Takak: A new release in 2019. This variety has proven to be a very early bearer with large fruit with a delicious rich tropical flavour ripening in March. The plant has displayed good vigour and high health. Self fertile, grows about 3m x 3m.
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 late in the feijoa 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.
Feijoa Bambina: Is an extremely 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.
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Figs are another favourite fruit of mine that ripens now.
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 rather than a lighter soil. At the same time they grow well in sandy soils with low fertility.
If left to their devices, they grow 3-6m tall and can spread equally as wide.
However figs are easily pruned and shaped to fit to the spot that you have available.
They espalier very well and still maintain good crop volumes.
We have a Fig Brown Turkey tree growing at work in a fairly inhospitable garden that is 40cm wide and it grows along a sunny fence facing west.
Through trimming to the space available, it has formed a rough espalier type habit. Its spread is about 3 metres across by 40cm wide by 2 metres high.
This fig tree is about 40 years old and continues to produce well every year.
Some varieties of fig tree will produce two crops each year.
The earlier crop is referred to as a breba crop.
The breba crop is produced in the springtime on growth that was made in the previous season.
These crops risk being destroyed in areas that experience late frosts, but in Whanganui they usually grow well.
The breba crop are generally ready for harvest from December onwards.
The main crop of figs are produced on the growth made during the current season and come ready in the autumn months.
The fruit from the main crop are often superior in their flavour, having benefited from more sunlight hours and heat than the early season breba crop.
Fig trees are deciduous and there are a number of varieties in existence with fruit that range in colour from yellow through green to purplish black.
Two varieties that perform well here in Whanganui are Fig Brown Turkey and Fig Mrs Williams.
Fig Brown Turkey
Large pyriform shaped fig. Yellow/brown soft flesh, with edible seeds which have a nutty taste like dried figs. Fairly tough skin and when ripe have a green/brown/purple hue.
Habit - round top spreading tree. Figs will begin to bear fruit after 3-5 years.
Size - 4-5 metres.
Harvest - first crop or breba figs form on last year's growth and will not grow until spring. These ripen December-January depending on the site. Second crop figs form during the summer growing season and ripen in the autumn. To enhance development of late crop figs tip the new shoots to four or five leaves in mid December. Breba crop, main crop early - February (description courtesy of www.edible.co.nz).
Fig Mrs Williams
Large pyriform shaped fig. Yellow neck and brown to purple skin with red flesh.
Habit - round top spreading tree. Figs will begin to bear fruit after 3-5 years
Size - 4-5 metres.
Harvest - first crop or breba figs form on last year's growth and will not grow until spring. These ripen December-January depending on site and variety selected. Second crop figs form during the summer growing season and ripen in the autumn, from late March to May.
To enhance development of late crop figs tip the new shoots to four or five leaves in mid December. Breba crop, main crop late - April (description courtesy of www.edible.co.nz).
•Gareth Carter is general manager of Springvale Garden Centre