Late Fruit Trees
Figs: It's getting cooler now and one of the crops that's available is figs. They're relatively easy to grow in most localities. All you need is relatively warm autumn conditions for ripening to be successful. Nelson-Marlborough and North: any variety will grow well and ripen. South of this line you may want to select a variety that is an early-ripening fig, like Brown Turkey, Mrs Williams, Brunswick, Cape White, etc. Before planting a tree or two: ask around your district what grows well and ripens well. The trees really need not much fertility at all (if they are on perfect soils they become tall and lanky too quickly, requiring pruning a lot)
Figs can be espaliered or fan-shaped stand-alone tree, when tall they make great shade trees for summer, and they grow easily from cuttings! They don’t need any sprays at all, if you’re lucky, just a bit of high potash fertiliser when fruit is ripening. When ripening, the fruits often need protection from silvereyes – another reason to keep’em low so you can net them. Prune in winter when all is dormant: it seriously reduces the bleeding of white sap!!
Feijoas: They are still dropping at my place. There are many varieties to plant in autumn. They, too, are pretty hardy and make great hedges! If you want to create a “hedge”, put two or three different varieties in that hedge and create an opportunity for cross-pollination. When the last feijoa has fallen off, you can have a real go at pruning. No difficult techniques needed (as with apples and pears and grapes – thinking a year or more ahead!). Feijoas fruit on new wood that grows in spring. So even if you literally whack them with a hedge trimmer, next spring’s new growth will give you fruit.
But what about a tree that’s getting a bit too high? You can really cut them back quite hard, because they’ll grow again. But seeing you’re going to do some surgery, you might as well do it real well: thin some of the branches inside the tree. That opens up the interior and gives the new growth a bit of space. It also gives the birds a bit of wriggle room to move. Birds – like blackbirds and silvereyes – are the main pollinators of the feijoa flowers.
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