Food for free

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With the cost of living rising dramatically around the globe, many households are finding it increasingly difficult to manage costs while putting healthy food in lunch boxes or on the table at mealtimes.

A home orchard, even a modest one, can help to ease some of the pain by providing seasonal fruit which can then be harvested and preserved or frozen to keep the family going over the winter months.

Winter is the best time to be planning and planting fruit trees. Most garden centres receive their fruit tree supplies in winter so that is when you will have the best chance of getting the varieties wanted. While it may take a few years, eventually you will be rewarded by fruit worth many times the cost of the original tree purchase. The key to wise investment in fruit trees is to do your homework and have a plan.

  1. Choose varieties which naturally thrive in your climate.
  2. Plant versatile fruit that can easily be preserved for later consumption.
  3. Make the best use of space and consider dwarf or espalier fruit trees.
  4. Choose disease resistant varieties to reduce sprays and other costs.
  5. Work with neighbours when planning what to grow and ‘barter’ produce.
  6. Select early and late fruiting varieties for a spread of harvest times.
  7. Consider a ‘family tree’ as a space saving way to grow more varieties. Find out more about this at

Visit for a full list of variety choices to suit your situation.

Season / months Fruit types Highly productive home orchard varieties
December to February
Mid summer fruiting
Stone fruit including dwarf varieties; blueberries; boysenberries Apricot 'Tomcot', Cherry 'Lapins', Nectarine 'Goldmine', dwarf Peach 'Bonanza', and Peach 'Peacharine'.
March to May
Autumn fruiting
Apples, pears, nashi, quince, feijoa, figs. Feijoa 'Kaiteri', dwarf Apple 'Blush Babe', Ballerina Apple 'Flamenco', Apple 'Initial', dwarf Pear 'Garden Belle'.
June to October
Winter fruiting
Satsuma mandarins, Navel oranges, Valencia oranges, limes. Mandarin 'Miho', Orange 'Powell Navel', Lime 'Tahitian'
November to December
Early summer fruiting
Summer raspberries, early blueberries Raspberry 'Waiau', Blueberries 'Misty' and 'Marimba'.

Handy hints for freezing fruit

Preserving by freezing is a healthy alternative to preserving in jars, as no added sugar is required.

  1. Puree apples and pears for an easy dessert or crumble base (add feijoas for interest and variation).
  2. Plums and other stone fruit freeze well. Halve, remove the stone and freeze on trays on greaseproof paper. Then tip into conveniently sized snap-lock bags. Use for desserts or baking, and to heat for topping winter muesli bowls.
  3. Citrus can be juiced and frozen in clean plastic soft drink bottles - a great winter ‘pick me up’. Freeze lime juice for summer marinades and dressings as ice cubes or in snap-lock bags lined up in an icecream container.
  4. Think what you can make from your fruit and prep them as ‘ready to use’ for convenience.

Fruit trees grown by Waimea Nurseries are available from garden retailers nationwide.

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

Feature article from Waimea Nurseries. For further information and more inspirational planting ideas, visit



summer fruit
Red currants, peaches, apricots, plums and cherries.

Apricot 'Tomcot'

Pear 'Garden Belle'