I have recently started reflecting on where plants in our garden are originally from, because people often ask me the same question about myself. Most of our flowers, fruits, veggies and herbs in the garden are from other countries. I have started writing a series of blog posts to explore some of our favourite flowers and edibles we have grown over the years which are from overseas. In this post, I would like to cover fruit we have grown in our garden that originate from South America.
I will start with feijoas, tamarillos and passionfruit. What these three fruits in our garden have in common is that they are very prone to pests and diseases.
We have five feijoa trees planted in our urban garden in Auckland. The varieties are Unique, Wiki Tu, Kaiteri, Golden Goose and Kakariki. If you’re planting feijoas, it’s always good to plant more than one variety to allow for cross-pollination and a greater yield. Doing this also ensures that you will have a continuous supply of fruit during the feijoa season, as they crop at different times.
Feijoas used to be incredibly easy to grow but a couple of years ago, we started having problems with the guava moth. You can read more about this, including how to remedy the problem, in the blog post I wrote about this subject recently here.
A few years ago, we had two tamarillo trees in our garden that I grew from seed. They produced very well after eighteen months, but soon after that both trees died. Since then, I have replanted some trees but lost them, twice. I have officially given up. Tamarillos are very sensitive to the cold and frosts will kill the plants. I sprayed liquid frost cloth on the leaves and stem to try and protect the plants, but this doesn’t work if the frosts are particularly severe, which they were.
The other common problem associated with growing tamarillos in New Zealand is an insect called the tomato potato psyllid (TPP), which you can read more about by following the link to the post above.
When I first started gardening a decade ago, passionfruit used to be very easy to grow. Nowadays, they are very prone to fungal disease, which you can read about in the blog post I wrote, by following the link above.
We have a number of red and yellow guava trees planted in large containers. They are the size of cherries, not the really large guavas you would find in places like India. They are very easy to grow and incredibly prolific.
A few years ago, I propagated cape gooseberry plants from seed and sold them in my plant nursery. I planted a couple in our garden. They usually over winter and sometimes self seed, so the plants survive year round and crop in autumn. The key point is to only pick the fruit when it is completely ripe. The exterior is a papery husk which should be like the colour seen in the picture.
Pineapple plants are very difficult to source and can be quite expensive. I have seen large plants at the garden centre for over $100 each. In the early years after I started gardening, a woman in a gardening group I belong to on Facebook kindly gave me four plants. Her father grew them and amassed quite a collection of plants over the years, but was moving to a retirement village. She was relocating to another part of the country and wanted to give the plants to other gardeners, which was very kind of her. I still have the original plants, plus a few more by planting pups which sometimes grow from the side and also by propagating a plant from the top when we harvest any fruit. You can see this in the photograph below.
I grow our pineapples in containers as they thrive in heat and the temperature is a bit warmer than the ground. I wouldn’t say we get a great crop. In our conditions, they are shy to fruit but every couple of years we are rewarded with a small, juicy pineapple from one of our plants.