How to grow fruit all year round
I threw the rest of our nectarines out of the fridge last night. Theyâ€™d been the most gorgeous Iâ€™d ever eaten; creamy-orange fresh, both tart and sweet as well as perfumed â€” the perfect nectarine. Then I went for a weekâ€™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 hadnâ€™t gone off or become mouldy. They just didnâ€™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 donâ€™t like fruit, I suspect itâ€™s because the fruit they have eaten is woolly, floury and pretty tasteless, as is so much commercial fruit we buy, unless itâ€™s from a farmersâ€™ market.
Cold storage preserves fruitâ€™s appearance. But the longer itâ€™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 â€” in your fridge or a commercial cool room â€” 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 farmersâ€™ markets, then perhaps youâ€™ll discover that fruit really is the food of paradise â€” 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 â€œmedium lateâ€ 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 havenâ€™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 havenâ€™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 havenâ€™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 â€œfruitâ€ (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 â€œfruitâ€, lillypillies, pawpaw in warmer areas, Cape gooseberries if they havenâ€™t been frosted off (autumnâ€™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 â€œfruitâ€, 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 â€œfruitâ€, 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 doesnâ€™t bruise. You may have only a few metres of garden but you can have a â€œvertical gardenâ€ as high as it can grow.
But even if you choose just one a year youâ€™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, itâ€™s hard to go back to floury supermarket, cold-store, mass-produced facsimiles of fruit.
A backyard cherry tree â€” or apricot, pawpaw, mango or nectarine â€” may change the way you look at fruit forever. It may even change your life.
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