Peter Cun­dall: Fruit­ful plants in win­ter.

With the right plants, a gar­den does not have to be dor­mant in the cold months, says PETER CUN­DALL

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS - with Peter Cun­dall

When our 20-year-old pineap­ple guava be­came too big, I took a chance and reached for my chain­saw. Within min­utes the fourme­tre-high and wide tree had been cut to a waist-high clus­ter of stumps.

I shouldn’t have wor­ried be­cause within weeks it had sprouted new growth.

That was two years ago and al­ready it’s back to half the orig­i­nal size and laden with de­vel­op­ing fruit.

Most peo­ple call them by the old name “fei­joa”, now re­placed by Acca sel­l­owiana but what­ever you call it, the pineap­ple guava is still among the most valu­able of all win­ter-bear­ing fruit trees. The sweet, highly nu­tri­tious fruit is a rich source of vi­ta­min C (main pic­ture).

Most plants are grown from seeds beTh­ese cause prop­a­ga­tion from cut­tings can be tricky. Many pur­chased from gar­den cen­tres ap­pear to be seedlings, so fruit can vary in size. Luck­ily ours car­ries large, duck-egg sized fruit in huge quan­ti­ties that cas­cade to the ground in mid win­ter when ripe.

I planted an­other nearby and the cross-pol­li­na­tion en­sured the enor­mous yields.

highly at­trac­tive ev­er­greens can be grown as part of an or­na­men­tal gar­den and reg­u­lar light prun­ing in late win­ter keeps them un­der con­trol.

The un­usual scar­let and white flow­ers, pro­duced in late Novem­ber are sweet and sug­ary so are of­ten used to en­hance sal­ads. It seems to be no ac­ci­dent that al­most all fruit pro­duced dur­ing win­ter hap­pens to be par­tic­u­larly nu­tri­tious.

For some rea­son, pomegranates (in­set pic­ture) are not grown widely in south­ern Australia, de­spite be­ing frost-re­sis­tant.

I’ve come across sev­eral over the years that pro­duced good-sized win­ter fruit, burst­ing with de­li­cious, bright scar­let fleshy seeds.

The juice and flesh is high in an­tiox­i­dants, potas­sium and vitamins A and C

It seems to be no ac­ci­dent that al­most all fruit pro­duced dur­ing win­ter hap­pens to be par­tic­u­larly nu­tri­tious.

just when our bod­ies need these nu­tri­ents.

The trees grow strongly even in cool dis­tricts but fruit size is deter­mined by high sum­mer tem­per­a­tures.

There are sev­eral dwarf va­ri­eties avail­able which grow to two me­tres but the fruit is much smaller. The bright or­ange flow­ers slightly re­sem­ble car­na­tions and are ex­cel­lent for in­door dec­o­ra­tion.

Ki­wifruit vines grow to per­fec­tion in cool dis­tricts but need strong climb­ing frames or even per­go­las. In well-drained soil en­riched with well-rot­ted an­i­mal ma­nure and plenty of sun­light, the plants grow strongly. Most need to be at least three years old or more be­fore they carry the green-fleshed win­ter fruit.

Vines can be planted at any time of the year but late au­tumn and win­ter are best and be sure to pur­chase a non-pro­duc­ing male plant for pol­li­na­tion, oth­er­wise there will be no fruit.

I prune the male hard dur­ing early sum­mer af­ter flow­ers fade, while fe­male plants are best win­ter pruned by cut­ting all canes which have fruited back to healthy buds close to the main frame­work. Any spurs which have formed on the branches are best left to pro­duce fruit.

Like pears, ki­wifruit is har­vested when ma­ture but still hard and green to soften and sweeten dur­ing stor­age. Keep well wa­tered dur­ing sum­mer dry pe­ri­ods and feed in late win­ter and early sum­mer with sur­face dress­ings of pel­letised chook ma­nure and mush­room com­post.

Pas­sion­fruit is an­other win­ter crop worth grow­ing, but don’t waste money on coloured va­ri­eties where soil tem­per­a­tures drop be­low 7C for months — com­mon in most parts of Tas­ma­nia. Many are non-grafted seedlings that are more suit­able for the sub­trop­ics so rarely sur­vive our win­ters.

Best of all is the far sweeter “Nelly Kelly” black pas­sion­fruit, al­ways grafted on to a much tougher root stock.

In frosty dis­tricts, vines are best planted in late spring, al­ways against sunny walls or fences.

A soil en­riched with sheep ma­nure mixed with blood and bone en­sures rapid growth dur­ing sum­mer.

Vines take about three years be­fore start­ing to bear fruit, but in too much shade they tend to sulk and de­spite strong growth, re­main bar­ren.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.