Tuesday, 30 July 2013

WAITATI OPEN ORCHARDS

by Hilary Rowley

Yay, winter's almost over, and feijoas are falling on the ground ready to eat. Who can afford to buy these little tropical wonderfruit from the supermarket? Feijoas seem to be really low-input, productive shrubs. We have grown 'Unique' which has fruited prolifically, almost since it was planted, and 'Sellowiana Wondervoll' which has had one fruit in the same time, but will probably come into its own one of these years. We also have an unknown variety which was a gift from some people who have a feijoa orchard in Alexandra, so it must be able to handle frost, which is a good sign for the people of Waitati who live on the flat and want to grow these fruit.

The feijoas planted by WOO at the Orokonui riverside site have been fruiting quite well for their size this year. These too were 'Unique', so this variety obviously works well for Blueskin Bay.

There is very little needed to be done to feijoas during their lifespan. Plant them well and water during summer when the fruit are forming.  I read an article in a gardening magazine recently where a man accidentally left the sprinkler on his feijoa trees for a day this summer, and this winter had a harvest of huge fruits, so maybe our Blueskin Bay damp summers are an advantage. Ensure you have at least two plants next to each other for good pollination, although some varieties are apparently self-fertile. That's it really...easy.

Make sure that your raspberries, black currants and red currants are pruned pretty soon, or they will start getting on with their new growth, and you won't have a clue what you are supposed to be pruning off. I got really confused pruning our currants, so it will be a miracle if we get any fruit this year. The good thing about pruning soft-fruit bushes is, if you get it wrong one year you have another chance the next year. At least it's not a live-or-die situation, so don't worry too much about making mistakes.

In the vegetable garden it's time to choose your new potato varieties to get started for this summer's early crop. We tried 'Jersey Benne' the year before last, and found their flavour disappointing, but last year's 'Liseta' were a success, so we're going with the lovely creamy-yellow, oval potatoes again as an early crop. Those spuds 'Rocket' and 'Swift' are certainly fast, but they pay for it by being bland and flavourless. You can get them in the ground really early, but watch out for frosts, and cover them with frost cloth at the first sign of a clear night.

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