Grow your own groceries

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10 tips to grow your own orchard

Autumn and winter are the planting seasons.

1 Buy only quality plants from your local garden centre. Select fruit trees that are ideal for the home gardener and have excellent taste, reliable fruiting, ease to grow and suitability for the smaller garden and containers.
2 Give them a good start. Select a site in your garden that receives maximum sunlight, is sheltered from strong wind and has access to water. The soil should be free-draining and enriched with planting mix and a base fertiliser of slow release food before planting.
3 Plant at least two fruit trees of the same type so they can cross-pollinate. Where space is limited, use dwarf varieties and dual or triple grafted trees which have two / three varieties on the same tree.
4 Protect blossom from frost. Depending where you live, late winter and early spring frosts can damage blossoms and developing fruit. Cover your trees and bushes overnight with frost cloth.
5 Mulch & feed. Add a layer of mulch around new and established trees and bushes in autumn, to lock nutrients and water into the soil and suppress weeds.Compost and leaf mould are perfect. Add a sprinkling of Blood & Bone before laying mulch and especially if using pea straw; use peat around blueberries to create the acidic conditions they love. Scatter fruit fertiliser around each tree onto moist soil early spring and every six weeks during the growing season.
6 Water regularly. Water new fruit trees and bushes to improve their establishment, and in times of drought. Do not overwater as this may lead to tasteless and cracked fruit, and leaches nutrients from the soil.
7 Remove excess fruit. Pick off baby fruits from new trees in their first season. It may seem silly to waste these but doing so allows the tree to focus on establishing a strong root system and top growth. On mature trees with too many fruit, thin those growing too close together so those remaining have more room to mature.
8 Protect ripening fruit from birds.  Don’t waste your effort growing fruit if the birds are the only ones to eat it. Start to net fruit as it begins to colour. Use bird netting either draped directly over the tree or build a frame to fit bird netting over. Pin down the edges because the birds will take advantage of any gaps.
9 Let fruits ripen fully. Fully tree-ripened fruit will be more tasty and have more health-giving nutrients. But pick them before they become over-ripe as they can rot and be attacked by wasps.
10 Prune correctly. In their early years, fruit trees will need little pruning but as they mature, prune them to shape for light and air to reach the centre of the tree. Small fruit bushes such as currants and berries need to be pruned correctly to ensure there is new growth for future fruiting. Prune stonefruit (peaches, apricots, plums) in summer after fruiting; prune pipfruit (apples & pears) in winter.

Recommended varieties include:

  • Apple Roy’s Pearl is NZ bred and just 3 x 2m when mature. Easy to grow and disease resistant, the fruit have pink to red skin and a rich pear drop flavour.
  • NEW Blackcurrant Sugarloaf is a NZ bred dwarfing variety. Very early season and the fruit is huge and abundant!
  • Cherry Compact Stella is a compact form of the Stella sweet cherry. Heavy and regular bearer of large dark red fruit with firm light red flesh. Self-fertile.
  • Mandarin Silverhill is a compact easy peel Satsuma selection. Prolific bearer with sweet juicy fruit in late winter. A compact growing shrub, ideal for container growing.
  • Peach Sweet Perfection is a NZ selection with resistance to leaf curl . Has an abundance of quality dark skinned yellow flesh juicy fruit every year.
  • Plum Hunterston is NZ bred with huge crops of reddish skin fruit with apricot coloured flesh, beautiful eating in mid-summer.
  • Lemon Meyer produces prolific crops of thin skinned, sweet & juicy fruit from an early age. Most widely grown and frost hardy lemon.
  • Feijoa Unique is a recommended home garden variety, being self-fertile, heavy cropping, and fruiting from an early age. Sweet flavoursome fruit early in the season.

Look for these products, tips and advice at a Go Gardening Store near you.



Fresh fruit, home grown, nothing tastes better

Correct planting of a fruit tree

Apple Roy's Pearl

Blackcurrant 'Sugarloaf'

Cherry Compact Stella

Mandarin 'Silverhill'

Plum Hunterston