GAR­DEN­ING Fei­joa prun­ing - it’s your choice


It’s not im­per­a­tive to prune fei­joa trees, but if you want to in­crease your yield (does any­one ac­tu­ally want more fei­joas?) re­duc­ing the den­sity of the branches once fruit­ing has ended is a good idea. Our mon­ster-size trees are drop­ping their leaves into our gut­ters and shad­ing the house, so de­spite not hav­ing any other large trees on our sec­tion, this was the per­fect ex­cuse for my part­ner to buy a Fiskars Pow­er­lever Pole Tree Pruner, which ex­tends up to 4m, al­low­ing you to prune with­out us­ing a lad­der.

Fei­joas are pol­li­nated by birds, so the rule that you should prune so a bird can fly through the branches truly ap­plies. Prune to an open cen­tre or vase shape by re­mov­ing in­ward­grow­ing branches, and po­ten­tially en­tire branches, to leave a frame­work of four or five scaf­fold branches. Trees that have be­come too large or that are un­pro­duc­tive will sur­vive be­ing cut back hard, or even cop­piced. It will take a year or two to re­cover, but the crop will be at a pick­able height. Feel­ing unin­spired by soggy soil and slow-grow­ing greens? Cheer your­self up by plant­ing a new fruit tree. Win­ter is the best time to plant fruit trees be­cause it gives them time to set­tle in and es­tab­lish new roots be­fore the busy spring and sum­mer sea­sons be­gin – kind of like set­tling into a new job.

Make sure you find out ex­actly how tall your tree is go­ing to grow and choose a part of your gar­den that is open and sunny.

If you have a clay soil, add gyp­sum to break it up and im­prove drainage by plant­ing your tree on a low mound so that the roots slope down. Give new trees a bucket of wa­ter im­me­di­ately and keep the wa­ter up dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son.

If you’re tight on space, choose dwarf va­ri­eties or grow fruit trees in large pots. A half wine bar­rel is ideal or choose a pot that has a ca­pac­ity of at least 20L. We’ve just planted a dwarf ‘Kawano’ man­darin in a pot. I wanted to plant it in the ground but it’s grafted onto ‘Fly­ing Dragon’ root­stock which won’t abide clay soil, so I didn’t risk it. You know you have great col­leagues when they give you worms. I was very pleased to find an ice-cream con­tainer on my desk filled with gor­geous red tiger worms from my co-ed­i­tor Bar­bara (our de­signer, Sue, wasn’t so pleased though, so they were banished to my locker for the day).

My old worm farm went ka­put a while ago – a com­bi­na­tion of weather and small boys climb­ing on top of it – so to min­imise fu­ture dam­age and to save time, I’ve been mean­ing to es­tab­lish a new in­ground one. Bar­bara is an in­ground worm farm con­vert and was pro­vid­ing me with some civil­ians who are go­ing to do the dirty work for me.

In-situ worm farms are a great op­tion for time-poor gar­den­ers. In­stead of col­lect­ing and dis­tribut­ing the worm wee and ver­mi­cast (worm ma­nure) your­self, it seeps into the sur­round­ing soil and is an ex­cel­lent con­di­tioner for in­creas­ing soil fer­til­ity. They’re also a good op­tion if you don’t have room for a free-stand­ing worm farm or a com­post heap be­cause you can add all your food scraps to the worm farm, plus they’re cheap to set up.

1 Drill plenty of holes in the sides

of the bucket with a gen­eral pur­pose drill bit (3–8mm or what­ever you’ve got handy). The holes are to aer­ate the bin and al­low move­ment of the worms in and out. Cut off the bot­tom with a hand saw.

2 Dig a hole in the gar­den or a raised bed deep enough for the lid to be at ground level. Place the bucket in the hole and back­fill around it. Add com­post or pot­ting mix to the bot­tom of the bucket. This will be the worms’ bed­ding.

3 Add some tiger worms from an­other worm farm or pur­chase them on­line from Hun­gry Bin or Worm­sRus or your lo­cal gar­den cen­tre. Tiger worms dif­fer from reg­u­lar earth worms and you won’t com­monly find them in your soil. Feed them with small amounts of kitchen scraps. Al­most any veg­etable waste can be used but avoid too much onion or cit­rus peels.

4 Drill two holes in the ter­ra­cotta saucer with the 10mm ce­ramic drill bit. Thread through a short piece of rope for the han­dle and knot the ends. When it’s full, use the bucket han­dle to pull it out and move it to an­other spot in the gar­den. If your lemon tree is laden with fruit, make lemon honey. I used to make oo­dles of it with my grand­mother and here is her recipe: Com­bine 75g but­ter with 3/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup lemon juice and 2 tea­spoons grated lemon rind. Mi­crowave for one to two min­utes (or stir in a dou­ble boiler or a bowl over a pot of sim­mer­ing wa­ter un­til the sugar has dis­solved). Grad­u­ally add 2 large beaten eggs and mi­crowave, stir­ring ev­ery minute un­til the mix­ture thick­ens or, if cook­ing on the This col­umn is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get grow­ing, from New Zealand Gar­dener mag­a­zine. For gar­den­ing ad­vice de­liv­ered to your in­box ev­ery Fri­day, sign up for Get Grow­ing at: get­grow­ stove, stir con­stantly un­til the mix­ture thick­ens. Pour into clean jars and store in the fridge. Eat within 2–3 weeks.

If, like me, you have a young lemon tree with only a few fruit, my Aunty Mar­ian’s lemon syrup cake, a fam­ily favourite, only re­quires one lemon, and is the tasti­est lemon cake I know of. To a bowl, add 100g melted but­ter and beat in 2 eggs and cup milk. In an­other bowl, mix to­gether 11⁄ cups self-rais­ing flour, 1 cup sugar and the grated rind of 1 lemon. Com­bine wet and dry in­gre­di­ents. Pour into a ring or loaf tin and bake for around 30 min­utes at 180oC or un­til a skewer comes out clean. Once cooked and while still hot, pour over 1/3 cup sugar mixed with the juice of 1 lemon.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.