Posts Tagged ‘fruit trees’

Posted on 20th October 2013

Grow | Avocado


 avocado on tree

Growing an avocado in the home garden is not for the impatient, as from seed to fruiting it takes around 6 years. Luckily, grafted plants are available that not only give you a particular variety but also reduce the time to fruiting by about 3 years. Avocado trees need to be grown in a frost-free area and excellent draining is crucial as they are prone prone to root rot. A thick mulch of leaf mould will also keep their roots cool and moist, but take care not to build this up around the trunk. Full sun with protection from burning winds in summer is also desirable. Which variety you choose depends a lot on where you live. For those in the tropics, ‘Walden’ is worth a go, but further south try ‘Hazzard’ or ‘Pinkerton’, which have the ability to set fruit over a wide range of climatic conditions. Avoid taller growers like ‘Hass’, ‘Fuerte’ and ‘Sharwell’ if you want any space left in your yard, or unless you live on a large property. The best selection for marginal temperate zones is ‘Bacon’, which can even cope with the odd frost once established. Avocados can also be pruned back to keep their size in check. A good rule of thumb here is 20 per cent off after fruiting. Complete plant food and sulphate of potash are great nutritional supplements to help your tree cope with cropping and stay healthy. Ripening times vary depending on the variety, but start to harvest your crop when the first avocado falls from your tree and you won’t be far off.

Avocados don’t fully ripen until they are picked from the tree. Store at room temperature for about 3–5 days. They are ripe when the skin ‘gives’ slightly when lightly pressed.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted on 5th July 2013

Grow | Pears


pear blossoms

pear growing on tree

Pears are the new flavour of the month when it comes to ornamental street trees, but should we be looking closely at the fruit bearing types as well.  Not only are they tough, they’re also beautiful, with gorgeous white blossoms in spring, deep green foliage in summer, fiery coloured leaves over autumn and a handsome outline or silhouette in winter. The pear season kicks off in February with the Asian pears and continues all the way through autumn till the end of May with some late cropping European pears such as Josephine. However pears also have great storage qualities and can be picked slightly under ripe, then kept in the fridge for a few months and brought out to ripen a few days before being ready to eat, stretching the season out even further.

The biggest problem you’ll have to overcome with pears is the wait factor, as they do take a few years to come into production, so expect to wait 4-5 years for a good crop.  Once they start, however, you won’t stop them and they will quiet likely see the next century.  To prepare their beds, and to keep established plants healthy, add chicken manure annually and mulch well. Pears can fall victim to a few diseases and pests, fruit fly, codling moth and light brown apple moth being the worst bugs, and birds of course can attack the fruit so you may need nets.  Lime sulfuring your trees in winter will help with a lot of the disease control, as will good hygiene, i.e. picking up old leaves and rotten fruit.

Pear types

Several types of pears are available to the home gardener.  Russet skinned pears like ‘Beurre Bosc’ and ‘Winter Nelis’ are perfect fro cooking, whilst smooth skinned pears such as ‘Williams’ and even the red skinned version ‘Red Sensation’ are lovely fresh eating pears. Then there is the famous Australian bred pear called ‘Packham’s Triumph’ which was developed in Molong near Orange in NSW – an area famous as being the food basket for NSW.  If you are looking for something more lunchbox sized, the gorgeous ‘Corella’ Pear may be just the shot as its a harder fleshed fruit and less likely to spoil. It’s great flavour and pretty bicoloured skin makes it a winner with kids.

If size is an issue for your garden, try espalier, or growing flat your pears, or check out the new Trixzie® Pear from Flemings Nurseries called ‘Pyvert’.  This tree only grows 1.5m tall and as wide, is self pollinating and has rounded, green skinned, full sized fruit.  Yum!

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted on 3rd April 2013

grow | vine leaves/grapes


 Immature grapes

Grape Vine planting

Grapes have been cultivated for over 8000 years and evidence of them has even been found dating back before the last ice age and the Ancient Egyptians had realised how great they tasted and worked out that fermented, they turned into wine. The term viticulture is the science of growing grapes, and is a study many  horticulturists and wine makers have devoted their lives to.  Home grown table grapes need not take a lifetime of study, but a few tips will help.

Grapes need great drainage, full sun, and are deciduous vines.  Protection from birds during their ripening season, which is late summer and autumn, is also important if you want to eat any grapes yourself!  The most important thing to realise is that grapes are grown on vines and therefore need some support to grow them effectively.  A pergola or trellis is fine, but if you are going to get serious about grapes, and start your own mini vineyard, you are best to set up posts with about 4 wires strung between the two so that you can train them along these guides and get lots of fruit.  This idea allows maximum sunshine to get at all the branching, thus increasing your yield and also allowing easier picking and management of your vines. Pruning is the other crucial factor. Vines need to be kept cut back to a main framework each winter so that they don’t become unmanageable tangles.

When choosing a grape, decide whether you want a low acid (table) or high acid (wine) grape, and if you want a red or white skin. Also, get advise about grapes for your area, and make sure you specify whether or not you live in a humid or inland, hot or cold area as there are some that are more prone to mildew and others that need longer ripening periods than others. Lastly, when picking fruit, taste first to see if the grape is in fact ripe as grapes colour up before they become sweet, and as the saying goes, there is nothing worse than sour grapes!

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted on 14th February 2013

grow | nectarine


 nectarines growning on tree

Nectarines and Peaches (Prunus persica) are one of the quintessential summer fruits, with the season running from late October right through to April, and a real glut coming onto the market around December/January.  What many people don’t realise is just how easy peaches are to grow, or how beautiful they can be… They can be grown in many areas of Australia, as the varieties available range from tropical selections (that cope with the heat) right through to cooler temperate varieties. They also can be bought in dwarf varieties, suitable for small gardens and pots, sold as Trixzie® grow about 1.5m x 1.5m. Their fruit is full sized, despite their diminutive statue.  They can also be espaliered to be able to grown along walls and in narrow spaces, or kept as a beautiful small tree. Another idea is to plant more than one type in the same hole, known as duo and trio planting, or grow multi grafted plants to allow for a few different types, and on the one plant. Known as fruit salad trees with these multi-grafts it is possible nowadays to have the one tree bear a white fleshed peach, yellow fleshed peach and a nectarine all on the same bush!

Nectarines and peaches also have the added bonus of being self fertile, which means that they don’t need another variety to still be able to cross pollinate and set fruit, which can be a problem in the back yard situation for some other fruit tree.  The biggest problem you will face is likely to be the birds, who, just like you, love the juicy sweet flesh but will also eat them greener, ruining the crop.  Nets are essential for keeping them out of reach.

Peaches also get fruit fly in some areas of Australia, so you will need to be vigilant for this as the fruit ripens. Normally planted in winter when they can be purchased bare rooted and the range is widest and cheapest.  They can be bought year round though if potted, and like a full sun position and are quite hardy, but don’t like being water logged so you will need to ensure that the soil drains will.  Dig a hole, fill it empty with water and check that it drains away completely in 10 minutes.  If it’s acting like a bucket, build up your planting level to above the ground in either a mound or raised bed, to ensure drainage is adequate. They will take about 3 years before they bear reliably, and need particular training to keep the bearing.  To do this, each winter remove any branches that grow inwards, and shorten the remaining branches, all the time creating an open vase like shape, just like you do with rose bushes but on a much bigger scale.  Also watch that you remove suckers, or the shoots that appear below the bud union, as they appear as these can overbear your plant and have no guarantee of being a tasty fruit…they are just chosen for their disease resistance and vigour as an understock. Each winter, check your plant for scale insects and spray with a suitable copper spray at bud swell to stop the disease peach leaf curl attacking
your plants.

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Posted on 20th December 2012

grow | watermelon


 home grown watermelon

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus)

Almost nothing says summer like a watermelon.  Cold from the fridge on a hot day, or still warm from growing out in the sun and then split open to gorge on that sweet flesh, it is the stuff from which childhood memories are forged.  They do, however, need some space to grow and time, as they take on average about 3 months to harvest.

The fast growing vines sprawl along the ground in any sunny position, but they do best if the area is also well drained and well irrigated until the fruits start to ripen and the vines are well fed.  Each vine normally reaps only about 5 fruit, so normally a half dozen vines are grown.  For best results, create a mound with added compost and blood and bone and into the top of this sow 3-4 seeds.  After germination, choose the best two seedlings and remove the others.  Repeat this over a few nearby mounds and your watermelon patch will start to grow.  If you want to double the crop, plant corn in the same patch as they are great companions.

You can tell when a watermelon is ripe and ready for picking because the side nearest to the ground will yellow, and a tap on the skin makes a hollow sound like a drum.  The spiral coil near the stem of the fruit will also start to brown.  Cut them off from the main vine, and refrigerate.

Native originally to Africa, they spread all around the world with the slave trade and ended up in the USA.  Although pink to red shades of melon are the most common, watermelons are actually available in white (Cream of Saskatchewan), yellow (Yellow Crimson and Mountain Yellow) and orange (Sweet Siberian and Orange Tendersweet) fleshed types.   There are also yellow rind versions such as Golden Midget and yellow spotted skin type called Moon and Stars. Sugar Baby is a particular favourite with home gardeners  as the vine is more compact and the fruits actually fit in the fridge!

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Posted under grow
Posted on 17th December 2012

cook | banana


banana bread recipe

Never-fail banana bread

2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts
¾ cup milk
2 eggs
2 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1 apple, peeled, grated
1 tsp pumpkin seeds (pepetas)

1. Preheat oven to 190C or 170C fan. Grease and line 14cm x 24cm loaf pan.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Stir in sugar and walnuts. Whisk together milk and eggs. Add to dry ingredients with banana and apple and mix until just combined.
3. Fill prepared pan and scatter over sunflower seeds. Bake for 45-50 mins, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 mins before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve with butter.

Serves 12

Banana bread can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks after baking. Cut into slices and lightly toast when ready to serve.

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Posted under cook
Posted on 17th December 2012

grow | banana


 backyard bananas

Bananas are the 3rd most eaten fruit, after apples and oranges, in the world but are also eaten like a vegetable when it comes to the larger, green plantains, which are great in curries or fried!  Botanically known as a herb, they are actually more closely related to grass than to any trees.  Each “tree” is actually botanically a stem, and this is why they die after flowering and put up new suckers continually to replace themselves.  These semi tropical plants started off native to South East Asia, but popular now right across the tropical world, and can be grown as far south as Sydney providing they are sheltered and frost free.

The fruits grow in a large bunch weighing about 45kg and made up of about 20 hands – Each finger of which we pick and eat as a banana! Aside from the delicious fruit, leaves can be used for cooking by wrapping food inside and steaming it, and flowers can also be eaten though they need to be peeled and have the petals removed from just inside they first layer, and right in the very (white) centre. Salads made from these flowers are popular in Thai cuisine.

To grow bananas you will need a warm, sunny, well drained and well fertilised site, and a quality disease free sucker. Dig a large hole, add manure and clear away any grass, then plant your sucker.  Avoid watering straight away as this can cause them to rot, so waiting a week before giving them a good drink reduces this risk, but after then, regular water and fertilising is essential.  Rhizomes are normally planted in spring, and plants will grow to about 6m, flower and then send up a replacement sucker.  Once the banana fingers are up to size, you can cut off hands green from the bunch and ripen them inside with another piece of fruit, so save having all 45kg ripe at the same time!

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