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An alternative late summer food garden.

By Dennis Ting – our rare fruit expert that works at the nursery on Saturdays. Here are a few snaps of his summer garden following on from the spring and winter blogs.

It is amazing what you can grow successfully in a suburban garden in Melbourne despite the hot and dry weather we have had this summer stressing both plants and people.

Tamarillo

The first stop is the tamarillo which was the feature in the winter blog. The final crop last winter was over 200 fruits from the one tree and this year the crop is going to be the a bit smaller but the fruit larger due to a heavy spring pruning as the fruit can become smaller the weaker the branches are and the further out the fruit are hanging.

Persimmon

The espaliered ‘Fuyu’ persimmon tree has held on to a good crop of fruit and at the end of summer they are about half size now.  They really begin to swell in autumn before changing colour in May.

Chinese Date

The Chinese date or Jujube trees are now starting to ripen the fruits.  They will ripen towards the end of April. They produce red fruit with lime green flesh that are crisp but dry and taste like apples or can be dried when the flesh turns brown and soft when they taste like dried dates.

The macadamias have held on to a good number of nuts this year despite some trees having a light flowering and the dry weather. Four different varieties and bees provided the essential cross pollination which ensured good nut set despite the low number of flowers.  The photo shows the nuts which are now about pea size and still swelling nicely.

White Sapote

The white sapotes have flowered and there appears to be a good fruit set this year. I appear to have solved my pollination problem as can be seen by the crop on the main fruiting variety ‘Vista’ which seems to like another fruiting variety ‘Pike’ to pollinate it rather than a standard pollinator like ‘Ortego’.  The photo is of the laden ‘Vista’ which usually only produced 6 – 12 fruit each year.

Carob Bean

The carob beans which were green in winter have ripened now to a dark brown and the new flowers can be seen developing on the branches too which will pollinate and develop into small beans during autumn.  Therefore you have ripe pods and flowers on the plant at the same time.

Coffee Bush

The coffee bush is flowering for the first time and I think there are some beans in there so I may be making my own coffee this winter! It is so slow growing and you need to get it through the first few years before it becomes a bit more hardy in our climate.  This is my third plant so it is not easy to do but being in a pot you can move it into a sheltered but well lit spot in winter!  Like most sub-tropicals I find it is easier to start them off in a pot for the first three years before even considering putting them in the ground which can be much colder in winter.   It is hard to grow sub-tropicals here that come from wet climates and do not enjoy the dry heat 40 c but then I think they are more adaptable than some moist temperate crops like raspberries, blueberries etc that get fried in the dry heat.

Jaboticaba

The prize possession of all is the Large Leaf jaboticaba or Brazilian Tree Grape which is fruiting now for the third time this season!  The Small Leaf form have only really started to crop this year with lighter crops of smaller fruit  (after 10 years when the Large Leaf started after 3 – 4 years).  Both these beauties produce several crops a year of grape sized black fruit on the trunk and they have white flesh which tastes like a combination of Grape, Lychee and Mangosteen.  My secret to eating them is to pull them off and make a slit at the stem end and suck out both the flesh and seed and swallow whole as the skin is bitter.  By far my favourite tree as it will be happy for life in a pot is so attractive in leaf, bark, unusual flowering and fruiting on stems and yummy fruit.

Cot N Candy

Two of the Flemings Inter-specific stone fruit trees cropped this year.  The ‘Spicezee’ nectarine x plum has cropped for the second time – tastes like a nectarine with a faint plum after taste.  Suffers from leaf curl in a wet spring like other peaches and nectarines though and affects the fruit too but can be controlled.  The ‘Cot N Candy’ fruited for the first time this year and was it fantastic!  Starts off tasting like an apricot then the sugar kick hits you which knocks you out!  The photo is of the ‘Cot N Candy’ showing the foliage similar to an Apricot.  I also have a Plum x Apricot cross but it has not flowered yet and will require cross pollination from another plum variety.  I think this one is similar to a Pluot which you can buy now at the supermarkets and are so yummy compared to standard plums with great sweetness.  All these Inter-specific stone fruit trees will be available in the nursery as bare root stock for planting from the middle of June.

Gardenworld currently has good stocks of many sub-tropical and exotic fruit trees so come in and see what is available or speak to Dennis on Saturday’s for further information on which may be suitable for your garden.

1 comment

  1. Joao says:

    Amazing!! Very inspiring. I have a few things growing from seed up here in the NT. Will be back to Vic at some point. Any survival tips on Kaffir lime for Melbourne weather?

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