What To Do In The Garden This Month; Juicy mangoes. Creamy avocados. Sweet peaches. Summer heralds a banquet of luscious fruits, many of them easy to grow
SUMMER IS ONE of the best times for fruit, with display tables in fruit and veg shops often groaning under the weight of trays of stonefruits (mangoes, peaches, nectarines, anyone?) and mountains of passionfruit, pawpaws and tamarillos, to name a few.
Have you ever wished you could grow your own? Well, you most likely can. Growing tropical fruit at home is simple, when you know what varieties to choose
Although a tropical fruit, avocados are eaten as a salad vegetable. The tree can grow pretty much anywhere – even in containers although it will need protection from frost and require good drainage. Generally, avocado trees grow to about 8m and take years to bear fruit. However, the dwarf variety Wurtz grows to 2.5m and fruits much sooner.
Mangoes do especially well in the tropical north of Australia and on the subtropical east coast. Although the average mango tree may fill the backyard, there are dwarf varieties now available that only grow up to 4m. Early Gold is one of the fastest to bear its reddish-gold fruits, followed by Irwin then Palmer, which has late developing, more elongated fruit, which is less fibrous.
This divine fruit, borne on a vine, can grow almost anywhere. It is one of the simplest fruits to grow, providing there is a fence, trellis or balcony rail that the vine can be trained along. Passionfruit vines need full sun to thrive, so a northerly aspect is usually best. A variety of passionfruits are available, from the large Panama Red and Panama Gold to the more traditional small black passionfruit and elongated yellow banana passionfruit, which can become a weedy menace (planting is prohibited by some councils). Grafted passionfruit are normally your safest bet, as these are more resilient to disease.
Tamarillos thrive across southern Australia to the subtropics. Also known as tree tomatoes, they are less commonly grown than other fruits, but are so delicious, they should be planted more! The fruit looks similar to a passionfruit, only more egg-shaped and with red skin. The flesh is juicy and sweet, with a touch of sharpness.
Pawpaws are easy to grow, particularly in tropical and warmtemperate climates. They are classified into three sex types: male, female and hermaphrodite (aka bisexual). The last are self-pollinating so you will harvest the most fruit per plant. Pawpaws like a sunny position while keeping their roots cool – next to the house is often a perfect spot. They usually bear fruit twice a year. For a refreshing coleslaw, pluck them from the tree while they’re green and grate them, then mix with grated carrot and a squeeze of lime juice. Or pick them when they’re ripe for a quick and easy dessert.
These are found from Tasmania to the tropics. There are two different types of guava plants the strawberry, cherry or apple guavas (Psidium) and the pineapple guava (Feijoa). Both plants are hardy, have delicious fruits and cope with almost any soil type. Also, the pineapple guava not only produces delicious fruit, it looks beautiful, boasting striking red flowers, glorious silvery leaves and attractive mottled bark.
Traditional stonefruits grow in cooler areas, but there are subtropical varieties available for those of us who live in warmer climes. Look for peach varieties such as Floraprince and Floragold and the nectarine Sundowner.