Well we can’t help with the weather or your location, but we can help you recreate that Mediterranean feel in your garden. And we’ll even throw in some lemons for your G&T.
Dwarf fruit trees are fast becoming the latest accessory for those wanting to create their own slice of the Med. Because they grow to less than half the
size of regular fruit trees, they can also be grown in pots – making them perfect for apartment and townhouse dwellers who long for fruit trees, but lack the space.
“New varieties of dwarf fruit trees mean you can grow luscious, fresh fruit even if you’re pushed for room,” says gardening expert, Tod Palenski of Awapuni Nurseries. “They grow faster than their full-sized friends and their fruit is often tastier.”
Plant fruit trees in winter? You bet. Plant now, says Tod, and you’ll reap the benefits come summer. The only question is what fruit to choose.
“For the ultimate Mediterranean look, and a never-ending supply of lemons for your G&Ts, you can’t afford to go past a combination of lemon, olive and fig trees.
“The dark leaves and glossy fruit of a lemon tree contrast beautifully with the duller green and grey of olive and fig trees.
“And in summer the large leaves of the fig trees create a canopy effect, so you can move the pots to wherever you want shade.”
To ensure your fig tree maintains its small dimensions, but still produces plenty of normal sized fruit, Tod recommends buying a grafted plant. A grafted plant will provide support, help the tree grow faster and speed up the time in which it fruits.
For easy growing and self-pollinating fruit trees, Tod recommends cherry guavas and unique feijoas.
“They both taste fantastic, cherry guavas are high in vitamin C, and the unique feijoa tree could end up with more than 30 fruit in the first year.”
If you’re a summer fruit fan and nectarines, apples and peaches are more your kind of thing, try growing baby bear nectarines, ballerina and crab apples and bonanza peaches.
“They provide great tasting fruit, especially for bottling, and will put on a fantastic display of blossoms in either summer or spring.”
Most dwarf trees are self-pollinating, which means they can produce fruit without the help of another tree. But to maximise fruit production it’s better to grow several trees together to encourage cross-pollination, which means more fruit.
So let’s get started.
If you’re planting in pots, use large containers that are 500 to 600 millimetres in diameter and the same in depth. This will create stability in the wind.
“Fill the pot with a good quality potting mix with a slow-release fertiliser to give the trees a good kick start and then plant your tree,” Tod says.
To ensure your trees continue to grow well, Tod recommends giving them a boost of nitrophoska blue every three months.
“The magnesium in the fertiliser will promote nice, green leaves on your citrus trees. But don’t use too much because you might end up with brown tips!”
Tod says another tip for great tasting and juicy fruit is to give the plants plenty of water during summer while the fruit is developing.
He also recommends applying an organic fungicide, such as copper, in summer to prevent curly leaf. And conker oil to combat thrips, spider mites and other pests.
In terms of pruning, not a lot is required in the first four or five years, but Tod says citrus trees will give more fruit in coming years if you remove all the fruit as soon as it appears in the first year.
“Your tree will grow much more in its first year, and produce more fruit in future years, if it’s not spending all its time and energy feeding to grow fruit.”
For colourful and fantastic looking pots all year round, plant annuals and perennials around the base of your fruit trees.
“The vibrant blooms of pansies and polyanthus look wonderful with peach, nectarine and apple trees, especially during winter when the trees may defoliate.”
Awapuni Nurseries has a huge variety of both annuals and perennials available in their revolutionary pop’n’grow range.
The individual root system of pop’n’grow plants means they can be unwrapped, separated and prepared for the soil without disturbing or breaking the roots. All of which makes planting a breeze.
Pop’n’grows are available from supermarkets, The Warehouse, Kmart and Bunnings stores and include a comprehensive range of herbs and vegetables.
“Parsley and coriander make a great combination with citrus fruits in the kitchen and they also look terrific when grown together in pots,” Tod says.
So grab a pot, choose a sunny spot and get started today on your own Mediterranean garden hide-away. You’ll enjoy the fruits of your labour for years to come.