In the orchard
How to get 20kg from one tamarillo tree
The natives of the cool, upland, tropical areas of the Andes don’t like to be too cold or too hot.
In chilly NZ, they are limited by winter frosts below -2°C so they are mostly grown in coastal areas. NZ exports around 2000 tonnes per year, and is where the name ‘tamarillo’ was invented to make them sound more exotic than a tree tomato.
Fruit can be red or yellow; personally I prefer the more tangy red ones. The plants grow from seed to about 2m tall, long and leggy, and only fruit after they have formed 21 branches, usually after Year 2. To get the most out of your tamarillo: • they only live for a decade, so always have a few young ones coming on to replace the old ones; • tip cuttings will fruit sooner, and tend to produce a stronger, more compact bush; • old wise growers will tell you to grow your tamarillo plants under the house eaves facing north. In coastal and windy areas it pays to shelter the trees, and cover them during a frost; • don’t put them in your greenhouse; they grow better outside away from whitefly which covers them like snow otherwise; • feed them like a tomato, with plenty of nitrogen and trace elements; • pruning increases fruit size, so in summer trim some of those leggy growing branch ends back by 60cm.
Combine it all and you can harvest up to 20kg per plant – we have had a banana box full off one tree.
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