NZ Lifestyle Block

Sheryn’s favourite fruits

- Sheryn Dean lives on an organic lifestyle block in the Waikato experiment­ing with growing nutrient-dense food in a ecological­ly-friendly manner. She offers her services as a consultant and tutor to help others on the same journey.

These are the varieties I love that do well in my orchard, near Tirau, south-east of Hamilton.

Apples Granny Smith, Bramley Seedling

Granny Smiths are self-fertile and a good pollinator of many apple varieties. They're healthy, vigorous trees that reliably bear a large crop. Best of all, you can pick apples over several months. In March, they're a sharp-tasting cooker. Leave them on the tree until June, and they're a sweet eating apple that stores well.

Nothing beats a good cooking apple, and Bramley Seedling is full of flavour, with a fluffy texture.

Peaches Golden Queen, Black Boy

Golden Queen is one of NZ's favourite peaches, but Black Boy also tastes great and has impressive red-purple flesh. Even grafted trees of these varieties seem resistant to the leaf curl and brown rot that afflict many other varieties growing in humid climates.

Citrus for eating

These are crucial, as they're all I have fruiting in the late winter-spring period.

Mandarin: Encore

Good for snacking, easy-peel, produces abundant crops over a long season.

Orange: Washington Navel

Delicious. It's hard to beat a good navel orange (so-called because their apex resembles a belly button).


Lemonade: prolific crops, refreshing flavour, always a hit with kids, if only because of the name.

Ugli fruit: my favourite citrus, it's so yummy. Maybe it's because I like the underdog as there's no marketing kudos to its name. There's also no lady-like way to eat it – bend at the waist and let the juice dribble down your chin and onto the ground. Citrus for juicing: Golden Special grapefruit, tangelos, blood oranges

(for colour).

I don't like to eat these citrus, but they're good for juicing and have abundant crops that hang on the tree over a long period.

Feijoas Unique, Triumph, Apollo

Feijoas vary hugely in flavour and texture.

Unique is an early-season fruit and produces over a long period, but its branches twist, turn and snap with the weight of the fruit. Though it's considered self-fertile, I'd recommend you pair it with a late-season variety like Triumph or a mid-season Apollo that has really large fruit that's great for processing.

Plums Hawera, Louisa

I planted Elephant Heart, named for its large, tasty, juicy flavour, but every tree I know has split down the trunk, so I'm going to replace it with a Hawera.

Louisa is a large, prolific yellow plum which when turned into jam tastes like apricot. Some people have issues with hardened tips. My tree was affected after I didn't feed it – the hardened tips disappeare­d after I fed it with compost.

Others Greengages:

delicious flavour, but needs the right pollinatin­g partner for good fruit set.

Prunes: by far my favourite eating plum, and you can dehydrate it too. Trust me on this – don't think of those wizened brown things your grandparen­ts buy.

Damsons: not for eating, but the ultimate for jams, cheese, vinegars etc.

Pears Worden Seckle

When I put these beautifull­y textured, delicious little pears on my fruit stand, someone commented they looked a bit runty. I changed the sign to ‘gourmet baby pears' and sold out within minutes.

Persimmon Fuyu

Persimmon trees have such gorgeous autumn colour and bright orange fruit in the drab of winter that you could grow them as an ornamental. I'm not a big fan of fresh persimmons, unless they're part of a cheeseboar­d. They're yummy as a dried snack and a good substitute for apricots in most recipes.

Their main benefit is that they fruit when nothing else is available. There's also more than enough for me to share with the cute little tauhou (silvereyes, wax-eyes).

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