Fruits and Edible Perennials – updated Dec 2011
Growing Fruits Trees in a small backyard can be challenging. Too much shade, reflective heat and simply not enough room – are all obstacles we can face as a gardener.
Here I’m faced with: A 100-year-old oak tree, hot westerly sun, a need for privacy with existing trees and 3 boys that need ‘room’ to be boys. Also we know that this little home, is not permanent. We do plan, one day, to build our own home and an orchard of fruit trees will be high on the list of must haves. So instead of planting many of our trees directly into the ground I have used ‘upcycled’ plastic drums as large pots. (Our local produce store sells them for roughly $30 each)
Into these pots I have placed good quality soil (a mix of garden and potting), manures and I do love Searles 5in1 as a soil conditioner/ compost. Each Spring and/ or autumn I remove the mulch and add more compost, fertilizers and more mulch. Occasionally if the soil is looking tired or compacted I will, ever so carefully remove the tree and knock off as much soil as I can and re-pot the tree. This is best done when the trees are dormant over winter.
Over time I have attempted to grow many fruit trees. Some make it and some don’t. Dragon Fruits – frost, Guavas – fruit flies, Blueberries – to dry (but I will try again!), Berry canes – forgot to water, Pomegranate – fruit flies.
Here is a list of what now grows in our garden
APPLES – Tropical varieties – grown in pots
- Tropical Sweet
- Golden Dorsett – Smallest fruit
- Anna – The best producer to date
- Granny smith (possums always get the fruit)
BERRY CANES – grown in pots
- Black Genoa. This tree is 3 years old and is grown in a pot. The Fig has been slow to give us fruit, I think the poor soil its planted in may be the cause. Over winter it was re-potted and so far this season it is looking very healthy. Update- we have fruits forming!
- Lots-a-Lemons. Ground planted. This little tree is a super hero in my garden, producing 2 crops a year of juicy big lemons.
- Libson Lemon – dwarf. A proper lemon tree with thorns on the stems and big thick-skinned fruits. Maybe it is the planting place or it is still a young tree, I’m yet to get a good harvest from this tree.
LOQUAT – ground planted, a very old tree
- This tart fruit is usually the first fruit after winter. Some years there is little to no fruit as frost can destroy the flowers. Other years we’ve had bumper crop mostly eaten by birds and bats.
MANDARIN – ground planted , dwarf trees
- Emperor and Imperial. These two trees struggle among the perennial garden plants. With an occasional drink of water and even less food these trees still manage to give us a small bucket of fruit yearly. Usually eaten by the children still slightly green. It is an exciting time when the fruits begin to change colour.
MULBERRY – ground planted
- Just one tree. Unknown variety, produces large black fruit. Our tree is roughly 5 years old now. And 2011 was certainly the biggest harvest yet! Just over 40kg of fruit.
PASSIONFRUIT – ground planted, 3 years old
- Oh how could one live with out a passionfruit? The variety currently growing is ‘Ned Kelly.’ Strong and robust, I harvest many kilos of fruit each year. I prune the vine in autumn, which gives it time to recover before the frosts hit in winter. It does get some frost damage, but due to the size of the vine it doesn’t seem to be too bothered by it. Other years I have grown the Panama red variety. I wouldn’t grow it again. Frost, fruit fly and Passionfruit Woody Virus (PWV) all hit it hard and I spent too much time trying to save a lost cause.
PEACHARINE – ground planted, 4 to 5 years old
- A cross between a peach & nectarine. That yummy peach taste with no fuzz. This tree used to be a great producer, but not with shade from a neighbours huge pine and a virus that cause fruit drop and gumosus. It has been two years since we last had ripe fruit from this tree. If I could remember to spray the tree in that tiny window of bud swelling I would beat the virus. I miss it every year. Maybe I should mark it on the calendar?
- Currently drowning under the mulberry tree. No fruit.
RHUBARB – ground planted
- This tiny plant struggles every year in the herb garden. Nowhere near the text-book image I expect. Maybe I should move it? Or keep swapping eggs for rhubarb with a friend?