Grow feijoas

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So sweet, so easy

Autumn is the best time to plant feijoas

By the end of March we'll be gathering up the pretty green fruit and scooping out their exquisite aromatic flesh. The feijoa season extends through till June.  By then, if we haven't had our fill of feijoa smoothies, feijoa crumble, and feijoa muffins, we can preserve what's left in chutney or jam, or bag them up for the freezer (feijoas freeze well, with or without their skin).

Since this small South American tree arrived in New Zealand in the 1920's, it's thrived and prospered in what turned out to be an ideal climate. As well, feijoa pests are scarce here, which means feijoas are grown organically, without chemical sprays.

Our warmest summer temperatures generate huge crops of large fruit, while a decent winter chill gives the best fruit set. Although feijoas are more common in North Island gardens, they're increasingly grown in the South, as early fruiting varieties are increasingly available. Feijoa fruit is damaged by frost, but the tree itself is frost hardy down to minus 8°C.

Feijoa 'Kaiteri' is a very early ripening variety, ideal for both cool and warm climates. It has very large (300g) fruit.

Others to ripen early in the season are 'Pounamu', which has dark greenstone coloured skin; 'Apollo', a large partially self-fertile variety; and 'Unique', a popular self-fertile variey well known for its fast, prolific crops.

Most feijoas benefit greatly from cross-pollination, so unless your neighbour has a feijoa tree, it's advisable to plant a pair. Although they flower at the same time, different varieties have different harvest times. Planting two or three different varieties means you will have fruit over a longer season.

Mid-season varieties include 'Kakapo' and 'Wiki Tu', a dwarf tree with huge meaty fruit which keeps well. The later ripening varieties include'Triumph' and 'Opal Star', a dark skinned variety with a delicious rich flavour and a smooth, non-gritty texture.

How to grow feijoas

  • Choose a variety that is right for your climate. Planting two or more varieties is recommended as most feijoas are not self-fertile, and even self-fertile varieties fruit more prolifically when grown near a pollinator.
  • Plant in a warm sunny location with well-drained soil.
  • Feed with balanced NPK fertiliser in spring and summer.
  • Water young trees during dry summer weather. Well-established trees have excellent drought tolerance.
  • Protect from wind and frost, especially while trees are young. When grown in pots, trees may be moved to warmer spot for the cold season.
  • Prune in spring.
    Pruning, while not essential, helps maintain a tidy manageable size and lets light and pollinators into the tree while stimulating the tree to produce more fruiting wood. However, it is important to prune at the right time. Fruit forms at the base of new growth, so prune early in spring (after the risk of frosts) to allow time for growth and flowering. Without any pruning, your feijoa tree may reach 4 or 5m tall and wide.
  • Pick often. 'Touch picking' daily is best to avoid fruit falling to the ground where it quickly begins to rot. Fruit is ripe when it comes away from the stalk cleanly and easily, when gently pulled. Fallen fruit should be eaten or preserved without delay.
  • A feijoa hedge
    Feijoas make attractive hedges for shelter and screening. For a hedge with loads of fruit, plant named varieties. Seedling trees are generally low yielding by comparison. Trim hedges early in spring if you want fruit.
  • Feijoas in pots
    Provided it is watered and fed regularly a feijoa tree will grow and fruit in a large container for many years. You may need a pair for best pollination. Plant in best quality container mix and feed during spring and summer with slow release fertiliser.

In the kitchen

Feijoas are rich in vitamin C and delicious either raw or cooked ...

  • Process feijoa flesh in a blender, by itself or with other fruit for a nutritious smoothy. No added sugar needed.
  • Make feijoa crumble. You can substitute feijoas for apples in any dessert, cake or muffin recipe. See here for a Feijoa and Ginger Muffin recipe.
  • Dice fresh feijoas and add a little lemon juice to make a simple salsa to serve with meat.
  • Make feijoa chutney.
  • Stew feijoas and keep them in the fridge to eat with breakfast cereal, or as a desert with custard or ice cream.
  • Gently poach whole peeled feijoas in red wine syrup and serve with vanilla ice cream, or blue cheese.

Feijoa and ginger muffins

1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup fine rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
2-3 tsp ground ginger

75g butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
1 egg beaten
1 cup feijoa flesh

Preheat oven to 200°C.
Mix together the first 5 (dry) ingredients.
Mix together the last 4 (wet) ingredients in a separate bowl.
Gently combine the wet and dry ingredients until just mixed.
Spoon into greased or non-stick muffin pans and bake for 12-15 mins.

 

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

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

 



22-Feb-2013

 

 Feijoa flower
Feijoa flower
With its Pohutukawa-like flowers and incredible productivity, the easy care feijoa tree is so at home in New Zealand it almost seems like a native.

Feijoa Kaiteri
Feijoa Kaiteri