autumn fruit bowl harvest new zealandAutum Fruit Bowl

Hello all keen gardeners - Wow !! Isn’t it fantastic that we have finally had some good wetting rain. Our plants and gardens are certainly very grateful.

I want to really stress today, that if you are thinking about wanting to create some new gardens or refurbish some existing ones that have maybe got a bit tired, then this is the very best time of the year to get into such a project.

Always, an autumn planted garden will outperform a spring planting, because anything done at this time of the year has nature helping it to get off to the very best start – it’s still warm and the moisture is around plentifully. Which means the root system will get growing into the surrounding soil very quickly. In the middle of winter, the roots will continue to grow even if the tops are not, so next spring the whole plants gets going quicker and faster. More importantly, if the following summer is very hot and dry, the autumn planting will be in a better position to cope. My advice is: IF YOU ARE CONTEMPLATING CREATING A GARDEN, GET INTO IT NOW !!!

Today I am going to talk about AUTUMN FRUIT BOWL. My wife and I were at my in laws last weekend, and between both households we picked the most amazing assortment of fruit from our gardens and I thought ‘how cool is that?’ We had enough fruit to satisfy any vitamin deficiency - and everybody’s taste buds.

In our combined fruit bowl we had:

red cherry guavas, lemons, feijoas, limes, apples, cranberries, walnuts, passionfruit, quince and avocados.

All so very, very easy to grow, and needing very little maintenance. I will list each type of fruit, and give a couple of brief pointers, to make them easy for you to grow as well!

RED CHERRY GUAVAS - these are absolutely delicious, and give enough fruit off one bush to feed a family (we love eating the fruit straight from the bush!). They come in two fruit colours - red and yellow. We have made a guava hedge at our place, and are keeping it at 1.0 metre high. The family also has a very high-producing single bush at the coastal property in Coromandel that literally bore over 500 fruit on a single bush about 1.2m x 1.2m wide. These perform exceptionally well in pots on the patio and are very high in vitamin c.

LEMONS - every household should have a lemon tree, these are xtremely easy to grow and very prolific fruiting. Main point to remember is to make sure you feed the bush 3 x per year with citrus fertiliser for best results, because they are very gross feeders. Best timing is Sept, Dec, and April. If your tree is planted in lawn don’t allow grass up around the trunk - this significantly cuts back the tree’s performance because the grass robs the moisture and nutrients. The best way around this is to spray the grass with roundup so that the soil is clear under the tree. A good layer of mulch/compost would be very beneficial also.

FEIJOAS - every home should have a couple of feijoa bushes, great source of vitamin c, and they are the very easiest things to grow. In earlier times, plant nurseries propagated feijoa trees by seed, so the sort of fruiting feijoa you ended up with was a bit of a lottery and the trees took quite a few years to produce even some fruit. These days they are all cutting-grown, which means they are sourced directly from productive parent trees and they will fruit for you within a year of planting. For best results, its advisable to plant two trees, this helps in the cross pollination and you will get a better fruit set. If lacking room, then plant two trees in the same hole, so they grow as just one bush.

LIMES -  treat the same as lemons, but because they can fruit very heavily even when the plant is quite small, it’s advisable to pick off the fruit for the first year after planting. That way all the energy from the tree will go into making more leaves and branches, rather than the fruit. The following year your tree will be more established and you can let it fruit as much as it likes.

CRANBERRIES - these are really yummy straight off the bush, like natures lollies (and certainly better for you and your teeth!). Cranberries are extremely good for your health, and even the very smallest plant will produce a good ice cream container of fruit. Makes a great small hedge and we have a topiary-standardised one in our vege garden with our lettuces growing under it. Cranberries can suffer a little from thrip damage over the summer months however; this is easy to control by the odd spray with neem oil.

WALNUTS - these come off a tree so you need a bit of room. Definitely buy a grafted variety rather than a seedling tree. The seedlings take forever to produce and you don’t know what sort of nuts you will get. A grafted tree will fruit within 3-4 years and produce good-sized nuts, which come ready to eat straight from the shell at this time of the year. If you are on a lifestyle block or farm, then put one in your orchard, and they will keep providing you with bucketful’s of nuts for you and future generations. We have some old trees at our place, and every few years we pickle the walnuts that are truly delightful on cold meat, even spread on toast.

PASSIONFRUIT - ever so easy to grow, but they require a warm sheltered spot on a fence or climbing frame. Don’t plant where it’s exposed to strong cold winds. They also detest wet soggy soil in winter - they will just turn up their toes and die from a root disease called Phytophora. Trim back after fruiting so that it doesn’t get too big and cumbersome on the fence. Feed 3 x per year with a fertiliser high in potash.

QUINCE - "known as the fruit of love" - basically not grown much these days, but my mother in law loves using her quinces in jellies/jams. Grow exactly like you would a pear or apple tree. For more recipes try Google.

AVOCADOS - these are easy to grow if you can keep them away from heavy frosts when young. They don’t like too much wind, and they also will not grow in cold wet soils, as they will succumb to Phytophora root rot like the passionfruit. We planted a tree 5 years ago in our garden and its now 5 metres high with hundreds of fruit on this year. I planted it on the lee side of the house away from the strong westerlies, and I planted it on the northern side under the shelter of a big old oak tree. The branches of the oak provide frost protection over the winter and it’s certainly liking the position because every year our crops of avocados are getting bigger and bigger.

I hope this article inspires you to put in some of the mentioned fruiting plants/trees and create your own AUTUMN FRUIT BOWL!


Regards, Graeme

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Graeme Burton - Landscaper - Rukuhia Homestead, RD2, Ohaupo 3882
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