wellbeing-brand-logo

Inspired living

How to grow fruit all year round


Nectarines_orchard_wellbeingcomau

I threw the rest of our nectarines out of the fridge last night. They’d been the most gorgeous I’d ever eaten; creamy-orange fresh, both tart and sweet as well as perfumed — the perfect nectarine. Then I went for a week’s dog-sitting duty (he had an injured paw) and came back to find the nectarines still red-flushed and beautiful. Then I bit into one. Yuck.

They hadn’t gone off or become mouldy. They just didn’t taste like fresh, sun-ripened fruits of paradise. And as we had other fruits of Eden ripening in the orchard, these went to the chooks. When kids say they don’t like fruit, I suspect it’s because the fruit they have eaten is woolly, floury and pretty tasteless, as is so much commercial fruit we buy, unless it’s from a farmers’ market.

Cold storage preserves fruit’s appearance. But the longer it’s stored (except in a very few cases, like Sturmer Pippin apples and most varieties of quinces), the flavour is either slowly lost or changes and the texture changes, too. I have yet to eat a good store-bought apricot. I once thought they were all picked too green, were perhaps varieties bred for looks not taste and that may be part of it. But, basically, cold-stored fruit — in your fridge or a commercial cool room — slowly or even quickly loses its magic.

So here is a list of fruit trees for each month of the year. Grow these and swap with neighbours and head to farmers’ markets, then perhaps you’ll discover that fruit really is the food of paradise — luscious, juice-dripping with a scent that can make a bowerbird sing.

So what can you plant to have at least some luscious fruit all year? (Note: fruiting times will vary slightly from area to area; at least one of the fruits below will be suitable for your area, be it freeze your socks off or tropical.)

January: Capulin cherries, blueberries, plums, plumcotts, late apricots, pawpaws, lemons, lychees, strawberries and all the brambleberries, peaches, nectarines, plums.

February: Apples, figs, blueberries, jackfruit, jaboticoba, guava, pepinos, lychees, nashi, pears, rockmelons and watermelons, more berries.

March: Apples, olives, avocadoes, custard apples, lychees, brambleberries, early quinces, early persimmons, pears, melons, grapes, strawberries and brambleberries.

April: Pomegranates, medlars, pears, Valencia oranges, lemons, early limes, olives, late figs, quinces, Granny Smith and other “medium late” apples, passionfruit, tamarillos, late grapes, chestnuts, walnuts, persimmons, grapefruit, guavas, feijoas, strawberry guavas, carob, chestnuts, Brazilian cherries, pomegranates, guavas, jackfruit, early calamondins, lillypillies, kerriberries, late strawberries, raspberries, bananas, avocadoes, Irish strawberry-tree fruit, melons, pistachios and pecans.

May: Figs, early mandarins, limes, pomegranates, late apples, late Valencia or early Navel oranges, tangelos, citrons, kumquats, tamarillos, early kiwifruit, late passionfruit high up on the vine, late raspberries, late strawberries if grown on a high garden away from early frost, olives, persimmons if the birds haven’t finished them, feijoa, bananas, medlars.

June: Apples (Lady Williams, Sturmer Pippin, French Crab), feijoa, Navel oranges, kiwifruit, limes, mandarins, citrons, grapefruit, bananas, avocadoes, late passionfruit high on the vine, banana passionfruit, guava, strawberry guava, pomegranates if the birds haven’t eaten them, lillypillies in warm areas, citrons, medlars, olives, late tamarillos above the frost, winter rhubarb.

July: Apples (Lady Williams, Sturmer Pippin, French Crab), feijoa, Navel oranges, kiwifruit, limes, mandarins, citrons, grapefruit, bananas, avocadoes, late passionfruit high on the vine, banana passionfruit, guava, strawberry guava, pomegranates if the birds haven’t eaten them, lillypillies in warm areas, citrons, medlars, olives, late tamarillos above the frost, winter rhubarb.

August: Sturmer Pippin or Lady Williams apples that improve when stored and wrinkled, unlike most other fruit, stored quinces (ditto), Navel oranges, lemons, lemonade fruit, custard apples in warm areas, tangelos, mandarins, cumquats, calamondins, pomelos, shaddock, satsuma, lillypillies in warm areas, Atherton raspberries in warmer areas, Japanese raisin “fruit” (swollen stems), kiwifruit, grapefruit, avocadoes, a few macadamia nuts, rhubarb and Tahitian and kaffir limes.

September: Navel oranges, lemons, grapefruit, cumquats, calamondins, limes, tangelos, tangor, mandarins, avocadoes, small alpine strawberries (not the large, new varieties that fruit later), Japanese raisin “fruit”, lillypillies, pawpaw in warmer areas, Cape gooseberries if they haven’t been frosted off (autumn’s will mature now), ditto tamarillos, early loquats and rhubarb.

October: Loquats, Navel oranges, lemons, limes, tangelos, tangor, mandarins, grapefruit, cumquats, calamondins, pomelos, citrons, Tahitian limes, kaffir limes, citrons, early blueberries, lillypillies, Japanese raisin “fruit”, avocadoes, early strawberries, early raspberries in warm spots, rhubarb, banana passionfruit and tamarillos ripening from last season. Keep eating stored Lady Williams apples and nuts.

November: Cherries, early peaches, early nectarines, early apricots, small early plums, loquats, oranges, mandarins, citrons, bush lemons, early Capulin cherries, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangelos, avocadoes, strawberries, blueberries, early loganberries, Japanese raisin “fruit”, lillypillies and early raspberries.

December: Cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, apricots, passionfruit, banana passionfruit, gooseberries, Cape gooseberries, Valencia oranges left on the tree, lemons, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries and other brambleberries such as loganberries, Capulin cherries, lillypillies and sometimes early figs.

You may be surprised how many of these you can fit into an average garden, especially if you hedge them high and pick with a hooked stick with a net attached so fruit doesn’t bruise. You may have only a few metres of garden but you can have a “vertical garden” as high as it can grow.

But even if you choose just one a year you’ll have the joy of homegrown fruit as well as a standard for all other fruit. Once you know how good a sun-warmed, just-picked piece of fruit can be, it’s hard to go back to floury supermarket, cold-store, mass-produced facsimiles of fruit.

A backyard cherry tree — or apricot, pawpaw, mango or nectarine — may change the way you look at fruit forever. It may even change your life.



 

Jackie French

Jackie French is a gardener, ecologist, honorary wombat, 2014-2015 Australian Children's laureate, 2015 Senior Australian of the year and passionate believer in the need for all humans to feel part of the earth around them, by understanding the plants that sustain us.