Taking us to Chelsea in 2007
Gardening Articles for week ending 6th
Gardening Articles for week ending 13th January 2007
Written by Wally Richards. [Photo]
For many years I have been collecting various fruiting trees, vines, bushes
and currently have a modest collection, which is only limited by the room
I have for planting or container space.
When I come across a specimen that appears to be of interest I will obtain
a plant and grow it in a container and see how it performs. If later I
feel the plant needs more room I will up the container size or plant it
into the garden. My goal is to have a range of nice tasting fruit, coming
available at different times, giving a continual supply of fresh fruit
for a good part of the year.
Growing many of the fruiting plants in containers means that the full
potential of a tree is not reached and a smaller harvest is obtained without
too much waste. When a fruiting plant does not perform well, or if I do
not like the taste of the fruit the plant will be removed (if the space
is needed for a better type) and given away to someone with more garden
Sometimes there pops up a fruiting
plant, that for some reason I have overlooked and this happened recently;
I live in a commercial industrial area where there are only myself and
a neighbough next door, whom have the original farm house. A long iron
fence separates the two properties and a range of natives and other plants
are growing on their side of this fence. Likewise up to recently my side
also had a number of natives hiding the iron fence. These were removed
to make way for a concrete driveway and a new development of storage sheds.
The removal of my trees allowed one to see the tops of the trees growing
on the other side of the fence. A couple of these trees turned out to
be Loquats with their bright yellow fruit, some of which were dangerously
hanging over my side and well within reach. I had not seen a Loquat tree
for many years and just had to pick the ripe fruit to remember what they
tasted like. They have a deliciously sweet flavour with a nice little
There were two stones in the variety growing, but some can contain up
to 5 stones dependant on the cultivar. I am now endeavouring to germinate
the stones, but will likely look around a few garden centres for an established
plant or two. Here is a bit of history and information of the Loquat.
The loquat is indigenous to south eastern
China. It was introduced into Japan and became naturalized there in very
early times. It has been cultivated in Japan for over 1,000 years. It
has also become naturalized in India and many other areas. Chinese immigrants
are presumed to have carried the loquat to Hawaii. It was common as a
small-fruited ornamental in the USA in the 1870's, and the improved variety,
Giant, was being sold there by 1887. Japan is the leading producer of
Loquats, followed by Israel and Brazil. (It grows well in New Zealand
in most areas)
The Loquat is adapted to a subtropical to mild-temperature climate. Where
the climate is too cool or excessively warm and moist, the tree is grown
as an ornamental only and will not bear fruit. Well established trees
can tolerate a low temperature of minus 10 C. The killing temperature
for the flower bud is about minus 7 C and for the mature flower about
minus 1 C. . Extreme summer heat is also detrimental to the crop, and
dry, hot winds cause leaf scorch. The white-fleshed varieties are
better adapted to cool coastal areas. The Loquat tree can be grown in
a large pot and would look stunning as it is a beautiful tree.
The Loquat is very hardy and can be grown in any soil type as long as
there is reasonable drainage.
Prolonged wet feet are the only problem and thus a container would be
best for growing them in if this is your case. Virtually free of pests
and diseases make for the Loquat as a perfect fruit tree.
The loquat is a large evergreen shrub or small tree
with a rounded crown, short trunk and woolly new twigs. The tree can grow
20 to 30 ft. high, but is usually much smaller than this--about 10 ft.
Loquats are easy to grow and are often used as an ornamental. Their boldly
textured foliage adds a tropical look to the garden and contrast well
with many other plants. Because of the shallow root system of the Loquat,
care should be taken in mechanical cultivation not to damage the roots.
Loquat leaves are generally elliptical-lanceolate, 5 to 12 inches long
and 3 to 4 inches wide. They are dark green and glossy on the upper surface,
whitish or rusty-hairy beneath, thick and stiff, with conspicuous parallel,
oblique veins. The new growth is sometimes tinged with red. The leaves
are narrow in some cultivars and broad in others. Flowers are small, white,
sweetly fragrant flowers, borne in autumn or early winter in panicles
at the ends of the branches. Before they open, the flower clusters have
an unusual rusty-woolly texture. The fruit forms and ripens over winter
making them the first fruit available, fresh from your garden in late
winter or early spring. After establishing, feed the Loquat with animal
manure, compost and potash.
Deep water them during dry times. I remember a friend of mine (many years
ago) told me that often people did not like to grow Loquats for the fruit
as they had big stones and only minimal flesh to eat. He produced big
fleshy Loquat fruit by providing heaps of compost and manure plus potash.
The Loquat has interesting health benefits also and for more information
see http://middlepath.com.au/plant/loquat.php Organic NZ has
an article in their recent issue (January/Febuary 2007) If you are interested
in obtaining a Loquat enquire at your local garden centre and if not available
place an order.
AROUND THE GARDEN
Had an email the other day that said, ?Could you please tell us what Blueberries
need? Ours is planted among camellias so gets an acid fertiliser,
but the berries, although there are plenty of them, are small and don?t
seem to grow.? My reply was: Blueberries only produce smaller sized berries
though they are a bit larger in some varieties. They require a free draining,
rich, moist, acid loam soil of 4.5 to 5.5 pH.
Maybe apply animal manures such as chook manure with liberal amounts of
Sprays of Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) over the foliage and soil will also
Blueberries are very popular at this time, as the ripe berries are now
available and this promotes people to buy a bush or two for their own
home grown berries. Easy to grow in a 45 litre container that has a free
draining compost mix. Berries ripen in a staggered pattern and can be
frozen down for later use.
Protect the ripening berries with Bird Repeller Ribbon or Bird Netting.
Spider Mites have appeared
in some areas now that the weather has warmed up a bit. The simple solution
to control is sprays of Liquid Sulphur. Often one good spray, under and
over the foliage is all that is needed if caught early. For well established
mites, a second or third spray maybe needed to eradicate.
Neem Granules should be place in the root zone
of tomatoes and brassicas to prevent the infestations of caterpillars
and whitefly from getting out of control. This simple method can avoid
the need to spray, by just sprinkling the granules over the soil about
every 6 to 8 weeks.
Cooler moist weather has caused early outbreaks
of powdery mildew in some areas. Most of us have the control for this
disease sitting in our pantry; Baking Soda: place a heaped tablespoon
of baking soda into a container and add one litre of warm water. Stir
to bubble up and then add one mil of Raingard. Spray under and over foliage
of affected plants and others prone to the disease. The mix kills the
mildew in its tracks and prevents re-infestation for about 14 days (because
of the Raingard). It will not harm any plants other than oxalis which
it will burn the foliage off, especially on a sunny day when the ground
is a bit on the dry side. (Who cares?)
Problems ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages at www.sharpei.co.nz
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