5 rea­sons to plant her­itage fruit trees

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature | Orchard Planting Strategies -

1 You can choose the tree that best suits your block

Com­mer­cial ap­ple trees – and there are only a hand­ful of va­ri­eties avail­able in su­per­mar­kets – travel and store well and can re­quire a lot of spray­ing. Their de­sired fea­tures are also of­ten at the ex­pense of things like disease-re­sis­tance or har­di­ness. In con­trast, there are thou­sands of heir­loom fruit trees and out of them there will be ones that suit your par­tic­u­lar cli­mate is­sues and soils, and when you choose the right one, you’re not go­ing to re­quire pes­ti­cides to keep it healthy and pro­duc­tive.

2 They are sig­nif­i­cantly more nu­tri­tious

Prob­a­bly the most fa­mous her­itage fruit tree in NZ is an ap­ple called Monty’s Sur­prise, a lone tree found on a re­mote farm near Whanganui. When its fruit was tested, along with more than 250 other ap­ple va­ri­eties, it was found to have the high­est lev­els of pro­cyani­dins of any tested world­wide so far, and far, far greater than com­mer­cial types. This, and substantial lev­els of other com­pounds, gives them the po­ten­tial to be far su­pe­rior va­ri­eties for hu­man health, pre­vent­ing disease, in­clud­ing can­cer.

3 You can grow your own al­co­hol sup­ply

If you’re old enough to remember try­ing ap­ples from gnarly old trees that were sour enough to make your eyes wa­ter, you’ll know cider ap­ples and perry pears aren’t for eat­ing. But put them un­der pres­sure and let them bub­ble away and you’ll have your own brew­ery.

4 You can grow fruit to last you year-round

A tra­di­tional orchard would have had some­thing fruit­ing in it all year. There would be plums and peaches from Novem­ber, and ap­ples right into May, citrus through­out win­ter and then all the fruits that were grown specif­i­cally be­cause they stored well, es­pe­cially ap­ples which – if you get the right her­itage va­ri­eties and store them prop­erly - will nat­u­rally last from pick­ing in May un­til early sum­mer.

5 You get to choose the best-named fruit

Mar­keters choose names for modern fruit: Pa­cific Rose, Fuji, Jazz. But why go for bor­ing when you can grow trees with names like Slap Ma Gir­dle (cider ap­ple), Jelly King (crabap­ple, used in pre­serves), Belle du Jumet (a sweet su­gar pear), Ele­phant Heart (dessert/bot­tling plum), and Pudge (small golden peach). There are nurs­eries all over NZ that spe­cialise in her­itage fruit trees, and don’t let lo­ca­tion hold you back. Fruit trees travel well and it can be well worth a small in­vest­ment in travel to get trees that will be feed­ing you and the fam­i­lies that come af­ter you.

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