Fresh feijoas easy to grow at home
The aroma and flavour of fresh feijoas take a power of beating.
And the bonus is that this hardy, robust fruit is so easy to grow, providing an abundance of fruit from autumn to early winter.
Their delightful bright red flowers, which appear at Christmas, add to their appeal as a garden plant, while the fruit are an excellent source of hydration for the body and provide soluble fibre to combat a build-up of toxins in the digestive system.
Easy-care feijoa trees produce bucket-loads of healthy autumn and winter fruit, year after year, which is one of the reasons they have long been so popular in New Zealand. They are easy to grow organically, trees fitting easily into the average back yard. Compact varieties can be grown in large containers, and as quickgrowing evergreens, feijoa trees are fabulous for screening and shelter.
Some varieties are selffertile, but even these will produce their most bountiful crops if pollinated by another variety. So unless your neighbour has a feijoa tree you’ll want to plant at least two varieties.
That way you can enjoy the subtle differences in flavour, and extend your harvest season, as different varieties ripen at different times.
Feijoas are ripe when slightly soft and when the jellied sections of a freshly-cut fruit are clear. If the jellied sections are white it is not ripe enough to eat; if they are grayish or brown, it is past its best.
Ripe feijoas, unless refrigerated, only retain a good flavour for two or three days. Brown blotches or yellowing skin are signs that they have been in the fruit bowl longer than they should have been.
They should be put in the fridge or eaten as soon as possible. Very firm fruit may need two or three days in the fruit bowl to fully ripen, but hard fruit will probably never ripen.
Fruit touch-picked from the tree have better keeping and eating qualities than fruit gathered from the ground.
Most feijoas fruit best in warmer parts of the country, but with careful selection of varieties they can be grown in warmer parts of the South Island. Early ripening Apollo, Kakariki, Unique and Pounamu are ideal for cooler climates. The fruit is frost-sensitive, but the trees themselves are frost hardy down to minus 8 degrees Celsius. Tips: * Watering is important for young trees, especially during long dry periods and when the fruit is developing.
* Birds are important pollinators for feijoas. Planting brightly coloured flowers around the trees will help attract them.
* Prune to maintain an open tree structure to allow bird pollination, wind movement and sunlight to ripen the fruit.
TAKE YOUR PICK: The humble feijoa has many virtues, and is very easy to grow.