You’d normally associate an orchard with a large area, but there’s plenty of options to plant for a smaller version in your backyard! Whether you’re a citrus lover or into feijoas, Ministry of Ground’s Dan Mackay shares his top picks and tips.
DAN’S TOP 5 FRUIT PICKS
- Meyer lemon - I love this variety because it fruits on and off year-round and being the most hardy lemon variety it is also suited to South Island climates.
- Tahitian lime - this favourite is a vigorous, hardy tree that grows to 2-4 metres tall producing small, oval bright green fruit which become light yellow when ripe. I find that if you plant lemons and lime closely they will both attract pollinators and you will get a better crop.
- Double grafted Black Doris and Santa Rosa plum - having a double graft means that there are two plum varieties grafted onto one root stock, offering you two different fruit to harvest on one plant. The two different blossoms flower at slightly different times, providing a longer fruiting period. Black Doris is an all purpose classic, with dark red sweet, juicy flesh, while Santa Rosa produces medium to large fruit with fantastic flavour - one of the highest flavoured in the plum world.
- Feijoa - my feijoa favourite is Apollo, a productive variety that produces really tasty oval fruit. This variety is semi self-pollinating so can be planted by itself in a small garden. However, if you want more fruit it’s best to plant a second variety for cross pollination.
- Passionfruit - your mini orchard wouldn’t be complete without a passionfruit vine over the summer months. It is essential to plant passionfruit in a full sun position and if possible sheltered from wind and frost. The best way to encourage great fruiting is to feed your passionfruit often with citrus foo.
DAN’S TOP MINI ORCHARD TIPS
- If you have a small courtyard garden planting grafted fruit in pots and containers will mean you can keep the plants compact and still get plenty of fruit.
- Espaliering is not only a good space saver and perfect for covering a fence, it also makes a contemporary landscape feature in your backyard.
- Why not plant pollinators? Pollination is essential for your trees to produce fruit. One plant that’s a favourite of mine but often forgotten about is borage – it will bring all the bees to town with its bright purple blooms.
- Companion planting - my three-hit combo for companion planting is mint, lemongrass and marigold. These guys will attract lady bugs and other predator bugs that will protect the fruit. Marigolds are available in a range of fun colours in spring, and you can never have too much mint in your life – think summer mojitos!
- Harvest in 12-18 months