The Miracle of  Growing Food Regeneratively

Creating Local Food Security & Healthy, Vibrant, Regenerated Living Soil, & Nutrient Dense Food

















NECTARINE (Prunus persica var. nectarina)

For all aspects of growing nectarines see: PEACH


Kreibich Nectarine:

This is a unique white-flesh Nectarine. A reliable producer of bright red, sweet and delicious, smooth-skin fruit. Kreibich is an American variety and the only Peach Leaf Curl resistant Nectarine that I know of – so well worth trying to get hold of it!

OLIVE (Olea europaea)

Ripe black olives

The olive plantation at our local school

Above are pictures of olives and olive trees at our local school, Clifton Terrace Primary, Nelson, NZ, which the kids pick and take to the local press to make expensive olive oil, to make money for the school.


Soil & Site:

Olives naturally grow on rocky very well drained Mediterranean hillsides. As a result they prefer a well-drained soil and will be happy growing in shallow, sandy or rocky soil. They also prefer soils that are not too fertile. They grow best in dry sunny areas, which they enjoy here in Nelson. Temperatures in the area need to be more than 12°C (53°F) in the springtime for new growth, but anything higher than 30°C (86°F) in the summer can stall fruit production.

Winter chilling time is required to encourage the olive trees to flower. Choose a position in full sun, in a warm, sheltered area that is free from hard air frosts. Hot, strong, dry winds when the flowers appear can also affect the fruit set.

In areas where the absolute minimum winter temperatures are between -20C & -50C (280F & 230F), olive trees require no winter protection. In areas of lower winter temperatures, your olive tree can be grown in pots, but it is vital that the roots don’t become frozen. This can be prevented by adding several layers of bubble plastic to the inside of the pot when potting up the plant, or moved into a large conservatory in the winter.

A soil pH of about 8.5 is recommended, which means most soil microorganisms will be greatly compromised, so aim for 6.5. Add lime if necessary. Good drainage is essential, with sloping land ideal to provide natural water drainage.



They are quite happy on their own roots, so take cuttings of your favourite varieties (see the section ‘Propagation Techniques’).



Pickling Varieties

These first two varieties are the culinary ones we grow for pickling.

Picholene: is a popular dual purpose green French olive. Makes an excellent gourmet table olive. It is cold tolerant, healthy and adaptable. It is also good for oil production, as the oil is superb quality and the yield is high.

Manzanilla: is a green olive with a high flesh to stone ratio and the stone is easy to extract. It doesn’t like cold frosts. It is a pollinator for Picholene and vice-versa.

Oil Varieties

For those that have enough land to grow a grove of olives for oil, these are worth considering.

Barnea: is a commercial oil variety and a prolific producer given the right conditions. Erect and vigorous grower. Medium, slightly pointed fruits with high quality oil content. Also a quality pickler when going black.

Chemlali: is a very ornamental olive as well as prolific producer of smaller olives. Very good quality oil. Its shrubby habit is well suited to screening and hedging. Disease resistant, hardy and easy to care for.

Frantoio: is one of the most popular Tuscan oil varieties. Exceptional high quality oil and high yield. Also pickles well when green. Vigorous grower. Good disease resistance.

Koroneiki: is a smaller shrubby olive bearing large crops of small fruit. Produces high quality oil. Well suited to coastal areas. Can also be used for hedging and screening.

Leccino: Superb Tuscan oil producing variety. Healthy and vigorous plants that are especially tolerant of the cold once established, so is suitable in most parts of New Zealand. Pollinators include Pendolino & Frantoio.

Picual: is Spain’s No 1 oil variety. Self fertile. The oil content and yield is high. Early to bear. Hardy and adaptable.



Make sure the planting hole is well drained. If the soil is heavy, break up the bottom of the hole with a crowbar and add some broken bricks or stones before planting. Fill around the roots with rough soil plus a couple of handfuls of garden lime.


Support & Training:

Support, by tying to a stake, is only necessary when the tree is very young. There are several ways of training olive trees, but for small holders, or gardeners, training the tree in a vase shape is best, or vasebush which is a smaller version.

Vase: The vase shape is a main trunk ½-1 metre (1½-3ft) high with 5 main branches spreading out in the shape of a vase or wine glass, with an open centre.

Vasebush: The vasebush is trained as a vase shaped bush without a proper trunk, and with primary branches originating from the soil line or growing out from a very short trunk. The obvious advantage is it is easier to maintain and to harvest. It is an excellent system for table olives.



The trees reach full fruit-bearing age at about four years. Thinning the crop will give a larger fruit size, particularly important for pickling varieties. This should be done as soon as possible after fruit set. Thin until there are about two or three remaining fruit for every 20cm (1ft) of twig.



Mulch down with 10cm (4in) spray free straw or 5cm (2in) bark chips.



Be careful not to overfeed your olives, they don’t enjoy rich soils. Annual applications of dried seaweed powder, or fresh washed seaweed is good, and spraying with liquid seaweed around every two weeks during the growing season is also helpful.



Protection from cold winds is good, by growing on the sunny side of a building, fence or high hedge.

Pruning: Olive trees can grow quite large if left to their own devices, sometimes reaching more than 10m (32ft) high, so training and pruning are essential. Pruning should be performed in spring before flowering, preferably during a descending moon when it is in a fire sign, i.e. Aries or Sagittarius.

In areas with no spring frosts, pruning can be started in winter. In colder areas it is best to wait until the buds are growing to avoid frost damage.

Olives fruit on younger wood, so apart from shaping the trees, pruning should concentrate on cutting out the older wood and encouraging new young growth. There’s an advantage to pruning after bud break, because even the inexperienced grower is able to assess the number of flowers and the potential crop removed by pruning. Removing shoots at bud break results in much more vigorous growth of the remaining shoots than if the same operation is performed at the beginning of the summer.


Harvesting & Preserving:

Harvest olives in the late summer and autumn months. Green olives are picked while they are still green but have reached full size. When the green olives start to turn purple they can be picked for pickling. They can also be picked for processing at any later stage right up to full ripeness (dark purple).

The most common way to harvest is to place a tarpaulin under the mature trees and shake the tree. Alternately, for trees grown for oil you can rake them off with a garden rake. For the larger culinary varieties for pickling, stripping by hand is best, to avoid damage.

A hand operated olive mill.

Oil Extraction

There are very expensive presses, but the mill in this picture is a reasonable price, or if you live in an olive growing area you may be able to get your olives pressed for you, like Clifton Terrace school – see picture above. For the hand press see:


If you have ever tried eating a fresh olive off a tree you will know how bitter they are. This is because they contain oleuropein. To get rid of the oleuropein the olives need to be ‘cured’. The most common methods involve curing in brine, dry salt, water or lye (made from wood ash and water).

I have tried curing in brine and dry salt and the taste of salt was overpowering, so I now cure ripe olives by pricking them with a needle around six to ten times, or more easily making a cut lengthwise form top to bottom on one side, then soaking the olives in 10 changes of filtered water, only adding them to the brine afterwards to preserve them. This way you end up with a lightly salted olive that tastes of olive! For hard green olives I use the lye cure.

Water Curing:

This is the best way to cure ripe black olives in my opinion.

1. Prick each olive several times with a needle (it’s quicker than you think), or make a cut on one side from top to bottom down to the stone

2. Fill large jars with the black olives

3. Cover the lid with squares of mesh curtain attached with a large rubber band

4. Fill to the top with filtered water

5. Change the water every day for 10 days

6. Add 1 cup of sea salt to 8 cups of filtered water to a pan

7. Boil until dissolved then let cool

8. Place olives in clean jars (with good lids) and scatter some fennel seeds in between the layers

9. Pour the cold brine over them until the olives are completely submerged

10. Top up to the top with 1cm (⅜in) of olive oil to keep the air out

11. Screw on the lids and store for at least 6 months in a cool place

12. When you are ready eat your olives take out as many as you want, drain them and taste them. If they are too salty, soak them in fresh water, till they are ready to eat


Lye Curing:

This method is for firm green olives. I adapted this recipe from Marisa Raniolo Wilkins’ website, well worth a look with lots of great recipes -

The first thing you need to know about curing olives with lye is that you must use fresh firm green olives. Not black ones and not half-ripe ones. The lye process softens the meat of the olive, so you want it as hard as possible.

It is important to use ash from untreated wood – not wood that has been contaminated by paint or treated with chemicals and preferably from a fireplace or wood burning stove in your own home.

Once the olives have soaked in the wood ash mixture they are steeped in clear water for another period of time and then stored in brine that has been flavoured with some aromatics: a bay leaf, coriander seeds, fennel sprigs and orange rind.


• 2 kg (4½oz) green olives

• 2 kg (4½oz) wood ash, mixed with hot water to make a thick runny paste, cool before using

For the brine:

• 2 litres (8½ pints) water

• 200g (7oz) salt

• 1 bay leaf

• 2 fennel sprigs

• 24 coriander seeds

• Orange rind, peeled in strips from ½ an orange



1. In a large bowl or crock mix the olives in the mixture of ash and water 2. Leave them 10-12 days. Stir them a few times every day (the stone in the olives will begin to feel loose)

3. Rinse the olives thoroughly, cover them in clean water and allow them to stand for 10 days, changing the water each day

4. Bring the brine ingredients to the boil, boil for 15 minutes, and cool. (If using fresh fennel sprigs or orange peel I would remove these in case they contaminate the olives)

5. Drain the olives, return them to the crock, and cover with the cold brine. Store for at least a week before using

6. Top up with 1cm of olive oil to keep the air out



Propagate olive trees from cuttings in summer once the current season's growth has begun to harden. Wait until after the blossoms have faded and the fruit has set, if the parent plant is a fruiting olive tree.

1. Fill a 20cm (8in) pot with a mix of half sharp sand and half milled peat. Soak with water and allow to drain. Poke a 10cm-deep hole in the moistened mix.

2. Gather a 20cm (8in) long semi-hardwood cutting from the tip of a healthy olive branch. Choose one with a 6mm (¼in) diameter. Cut it 3mm (⅛in) below a leaf node. Remove all the leaves from the base of the cutting, leaving just six or so at the tip.

3. Coat the severed end of the olive cutting in rooting powder. Flick off the excess powder. Insert the cutting into the hole in the moistened sand mixture. Firm the mix against the stem.

4. Place the pot in a lightly shaded, well-ventilated cold frame or outdoors on a sheltered garden bench with light shade.

5. Mist the foliage twice daily with a spray bottle. Check the moisture level in the sand mixture whenever you mist the foliage. Add water if the sand feels mostly dry in the top 25mm (2in).

6. Check for roots in approximately three months by gently tugging on the base of the olive cutting.

7. When rooted tip out the mix and re-pot the rooted cutting into a pot with potting compost. Continue to grow it in the cold frame or glasshouse and water weekly during the winter.

8. Move the olive to a shaded area of the garden in spring after the last frost. Grow it under lightly shaded conditions and water as needed during the summer. Transplant it into a permanent bed in autumn.


Possible Pests & Diseases:

Olives are remarkably free of pests and diseases.

ORANGE (Citrus × sinensis)

For: Soil & Site, Rootstocks, Planting, Support & Training, Maintenance, Mulching, Feeding, Pruning, Propagation and Possible Pests & Diseases see: LEMON

As with other varieties of citrus, oranges need long warm summers and winter temperatures that do not go below -20C (280F), however in colder areas they can be grown in a tub, grown in a warm conservatory, grafted onto the dwarfing stock Flying Dragon, and trimmed to keep them compact.


Cipo: has large orange fruit with a few seeds but very juicy and sweet. This is a weeping standard, moderately vigorous with a few thorns has a densely compact habit. Ideal for container or the small garden. Self-fertile. Long harvest from late summer to late autumn.

Newhall: The Newhall Orange is a vigorous navel orange with attractive deep orange fruit. It ripens in late summer – early autumn. It's a good juicing orange with few seeds. Protect from frost when young.

Tarocco: This is a great Italian blood orange with a firm texture and rich sweet flavour. It is juicy and near seedless. Does well in areas with warmer summers.

PEACH (Prunus persica)

Soil & Site:

Choose a location in a fertile, well-drained medium loam that receives full sun, with preferably shelter from usual direction for cold winds. In colder countries, or areas, like the southern parts of the UK, or parts of South Island of New Zealand, they can be grown as a fan against a sunny protected wall, where they can be covered with cloth or frost fleece when it is in flower and a late frost threatens. This is how my grandfather grew them in Hertfordshire, England in the early nineteen hundreds. 


Peach varieties are usually grafted onto seedling peach rootstock, or grown from seed if the variety grows true from seed, like Golden Queen and Black Boy. They can also be grown on ‘Marianna Plum’ rootstock, which can stand heavier, moist soils. This is an excellent semi dwarfing, and non-suckering rootstock.


Black Boy: This peach is top of the list, because it is the most resistant to diseases of any peach, especially peach leaf curl. It is therefore ideal for those who want to grow organically or in other sustainable ways. Trees next to a Blackboy can be riddled with leaf curl and the Blackboy goes on unaffected. Small-medium peach with dark red grey skin, bright port red and white streaky flesh, freestone, juicy, strong flavour.

Golden Queen: is possibly the best peach for bottling of any of the peach varieties. It isn't a freestone peach but the flesh holds together well for preserving. An exquisitely flavoured golden very sweet fruit, which keeps well in the jar. This tree is also an extremely disease resistant peach. Low maintenance. A heavy cropper.

Wiggins: is a sweet tasting, white-fleshed heirloom peach. It ripens in late summer, before the later Black Boy peach. It isn't a freestone peach, but it is excellent for eating fresh or bottling. The skin is not thick or too furry and the flavour is superb. This is another very disease resistant peach. Apart from pruning to keep new growth coming, this is a low maintenance home garden peach variety.





Support & Training:

Tie young trees to a cane or stake for one year until established. Can be grown as a freestanding tree, or grown as a fan if grafted onto Marianna Plum rootstock.



Spray at monthly intervals throughout the growing season with seaweed spray.



Mulch the soil out to the edge of the branches with 10cm spray-free straw.



Feed every year in early winter with a mulch of one bucket of garden compost per square metre + seaweed meal or fresh seaweed.



We have a large freestanding Black Boy peach and have never had any problems with birds. If you do, you will have to net.

Our peach tree before pruning


First, prune freestanding trees in spring, removing all dead, diseased or crossing branches, as well as shaping the tree and reducing the height if necessary. Peaches fruit on last year’s growth, so cut out any shoots that fruited last year, leaving those shoots from last year to flower and crop this year.

Our peach tree after pruning

For pruning fan-trained peaches see the section: 'GROWING TREE FRUIT'TRAINING - Fan.

Possible Pests & Diseases:

Peach-leaf Curl is the most obvious problem with peaches, but if you grow any of the varieties above, especially Black Boy, you should have little trouble. If you do, rake up all the leaves in the winter and burn or dispose in the rubbish, then spray the bare tree with neat urine (your own), making sure to also spray the ground under the tree to kill any spores, and spray several times during the growing season with urine watered down with three parts of water. Alternatively, spray with Trichoderma viride in the winter and growing season – (see: the section ‘Pests & Diseases’ - The New Generation of Biological Products).

PEAR (Pyrus communis)

Soil & Site:

Choose a location in a fertile, well-drained soil that receives full sun, but sheltered from cold southerly winds. Pears prefer a pH of 6.0-6.5, if it’s less than 6.0 add garden lime.


Pears are usually grafted onto quince rootstock, producing smaller trees, which is what I would recommend as they are easier to maintain.


Beurre Bosc: produces large, brown-skinned juicy fruit with delicious sweet flavour. Pollinate with William’s Bon Chretien or Doyenne du Comice.

Concord: produces a large, elongated juicy yellow pear that ripens in mid-autumn when fruit take on a pinkish blush. Self-fertile but improved if grown with a Nashi pear variety.

Doyenne du Comice: is regarded as one of the best pears when it comes to flavour. Fruit are green skinned with a pinkish blush. Very sweet and juicy. Pollinate with Concord.

Packham's Triumph: is a heavy cropping variety with large greenish-yellow skinned fruits. Great for bottling and preserving. Self-fertile but pollination is improved by growing with Wiiliam’s Bon Chretien.

William's Bon Chretien: produces an early crop of fruit that change from pale green to yellow when ripe. One of the best tasting pears of all time, however it is not a keeper – so get eating! Pollinate with Beurre Bosc or Packham’s Triumph.

Conference: unlike a William’s pear – it is one of the best keepers. Developed by Thomas Francis Rivers in Britain, it gained its name by winning first prize at the National British Pear Conference in London in 1885. It is widely grown in the UK, largely because of its cropping reliability, good disease resistance, keeping qualities and self-fertility. Its taste and texture are also good. If kept cool, it will keep until the end of winter!


Planting: (See the section: 'GROWING TREE FRUIT' PLANTING TREE FRUIT).


Support & Training:

Freestanding trees are difficult to maintain, as they always want to grow to the sky. We grow ours on quince stock and train them as espalier. This way they do not grow too big, are easier to maintain, easy to net against birds, easier to pick and produce better quality fruit - see pictures below:

Espalier trained pear in winter

Same pear tree in fruit

If you do want to grow a freestanding tree, I suggest you choose one grafted onto quince stock to keep it reasonably within bounds, as well as training it in a vase shape and pruning it to keep the height around 2.2-2.5m (7-8ft). For more information about training - (see the section: 'GROWING TREE FRUIT' - TRAINING).



Water around the base of your young trees in dry periods, especially when the fruit is swelling, making sure that soil gets enough water for the roots to be fully soaked. We have a drip hose that winds the length of our two espalier trained trees.


Mulching: Mulch around base of newly planted trees, especially if you have sandy soil. Cover a circle as wide as the spread of the branches with 10cm (4in) old straw and replenish mulch when necessary. Make sure the mulching layer doesn’t touch the stem of your tree as this can cause it to rot. This should be done for the first three years after planting. After that you can plant borage, comfrey, dill and fennel beneath your trees to draw nutrients from deep in the soil and to attract beneficial pollinating and predatory insects.



In autumn/early winter apply about 3cm (1in) of well-rotted garden compost around the base of the tree, especially the area where the feeding roots are, under the outer edge of the main stems. An application of powdered seaweed is also good at this time to supply trace elements and potassium.



If you have birds pecking the ripening fruit, as we do, you may need to net the trees, which is easier if you an espalier trained tree.



For the general pruning of pears see: APPLE


Possible Pests & Diseases:


Apart from generally improving the health of the soil and hence the trees, and other methods as described in the first part of the section ‘Pests & Diseases’, it is a good idea to have a regular spaying regime during the growing and fruiting season - e.g. spray compost tea, with added liquid seaweed, every two weeks + the parasitic fungus Trichoderma viride spray alternate weeks, to counteract fungus diseases like fireblight.


Pear Slug (Sawfly Larvae): This is a pest we have not had, but a neighbour up the hill had it on their young pear trees, probably introduced with the young trees from the nursery where they bought them.

Pear Slug

The pear sawfly (Caliroa cerasi) is also known as the cherry or pear slug. Young larvae – 12mm (½in) long, are greenish-black, elongated, slim and slug-like, with very little evidence of legs. As the slugs grow, they become lighter coloured, resembling green-orange caterpillars. 

The winter is passed in the soil inside a cocoon. In the late spring, shortly after trees have come into full leaf, the adult sawflies emerge and deposit their eggs on the leaves.

Sawfly Control: Cultivate around trees and shrubs in the early spring and again in the fall to help reduce the overwintering population. Wash pear slugs off leaves with a strong jet of water. Larvae may also be sprayed with homemade Traditional Indian Insecticide Spray, (see: the section ‘Pests & Diseases’). However, I would use non-poisonous Diatomaceous Earth, an effective organic insecticide that works well when dusted over slug infested areas.

Coddling moth: We find that codling moth tends to affect our apple trees worst, but they still affect a proportion of our pears - see: APPLES for controlling the moths.


Fireblight: is a particular problem with pear trees that have lots of soft fresh growth. Signs of infection are leaf shoots and fruiting spurs turning black. Reduce the likelihood of an outbreak by not over-feeding with nitrogen-rich manure or fertilizer. Once infected, trees can’t be cured completely, but as soon as fire blight is discovered it can be kept under control by cutting out diseased wood back to a healthy branch below the diseased sections and burning them to prevent further infection. Dip pruning shears into a jar of methylated spirits or bleach solution between each cut to avoid transmitting the disease from one branch to another.

I have also found that spraying with the parasitic fungus Trichoderma viride spray (see the section 'Pests & Diseases') as soon as the new leaves have started to grow in spring, and subsequently spraying every two weeks, along with cutting out the effected shoots, and picking off infected leaves, has been quite effective at controlling the disease.

The Trichoderma powder needs whisking into rainwater and thoroughly mixing before diluting with more rainwater, otherwise it becomes claggy and blocks the spray gun, unless you can obtain the liquid version.

You should also sprinkle a product containing Streptomyces lydicus powder around the root zone and water in, plus drilling into the bark with a 6mm twist drill bit, 15mm deep in two places – then filling the holes with Streptomyces lydicus powder pushed in with the blunt end of the drill bit, and sealing the hole with clay or Blue Tack. The Streptomyces will flow up the sap into every part of the tree helping to kill off and control the fire blight.

For the USA:

See: Biopesticide Controls of Plant, Diseases: Resources and Products for Organic Farmers in Ohio –

For Australia & USA:

Nufarm’s product ‘Actinovate’ –

For New Zealand:

See: Biological Solutions ‘Contego ST’ –

Fire Blight on pear leaves

PERSIMMON (Diospyros kaki)

Definitely one of my favourite fruit! For those who have not eaten one, buy one, wait until a little soft and enjoy. For those who have not grown them, give one a try. The Persimmon is a deciduous tree, native to China.

They have a gorgeous taste, which is unlike anything else. They usually grow to 3-4m (10-13ft). The early varieties were astringent types that could only be eaten when very soft. The newer varieties like Fuyu are sweet even when still firm, and boy do they make great smoothies!

Soil & Site:

Persimmon will grow in a wide range of soil types, but always do best in deep well drained loam type soils. A pH of 6.4 is ideal. Stony soils can reduce tree vigour and induce early fruiting. Shelter from cold spring winds. Persimmons require a long growing season (7 months), to mature fruit. This limits the fruit to the warmer regions, and places with more Mediterranean type climates. Here in Nelson we have good crops.


Kaki is the usual rootstock.





Support & Training:

Initial pruning of young trees is aimed at creating a strong framework for carrying fruit in the future years. Train into an open vase shape on a short ½m (1½ft) trunk. Staking for the first year might be necessary with a small young tree.


For good production they should be irrigated during dry weather, especially when the fruit is forming.


Mulch down around the tree with 10cm (4in) spray-free straw, or 5cm (2in) bark chips.


Do not feed organic fertiliser with a high nitrogen content, such as ‘blood & bone’ or fresh manure, as this will lead to vigorous growth at the expense of fruit. Spraying with seaweed spray several times during the growing season and mulching with comfrey leaves will supply Potassium and essential trace elements.


Protect from cold winds. We have found birds to be little trouble.


Persimmon’s fruit on the tips of the previous summer’s growth. Winter pruning consists of removing shoots, which have fruited, and leaving new shoots for the current season’s crop. Good fruiting shoots are approximately 20-40cm (8-12in) long with large buds near the tip. Summer pruning is used on vigorous trees:

Harvesting & Preserving:

Persimmons are harvested over the autumn and earl winter months. Fruit reach full maturity when the fruit turns orange and fully covered. You can pick them at this stage and finish ripening to your taste indoors. They have a shelf life of 20-30 days after harvest. Slices of pealed and dried persimmon are extremely yummy!


Grafting onto ‘kaki’ rootstock can be done in spring when the rootstock has started to leaf out. Grafted trees normally start setting fruit in three to four years.

Possible Pests & Diseases:

Leaf-roller and Mealy bug are the main pests here in New Zealand. The biological spray Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) will control these pests in the home garden.

Persimmon Wilt: The Cephalosporium diospyri fungus causes a serious and often fatal disease called persimmon wilt. Infected leaves wilt and fall to the ground as the branches die. The decline begins at the top of a persimmon tree and spreads downward, eventually affecting the entire tree. Severely diseased trees die one to two years after becoming infected.

Vascular or Verticillium wilt can also cause persimmon tree death. The soil-borne fungus attacks the tree's water-transport system. The wood and roots become discoloured, the leaves shrivel and wilt, and the persimmon fruit is often deformed or the tree fails to produce fruit.

Two years ago our persimmon tree got this disease and I cured it by acting early by:

1. Cutting out the affected branches back to at least 15cm (6in) past the infected point.

2. Sprinkling the parasitic fungus Trichoderma viride granules around the tree and watering in, so the Trichoderma was absorbed up into the sap through the roots.

3. Drilling three 6mm (¼in) diameter holes 2cm (¾in) deep around the main trunk 10cm (4in) up from the ground and stuffing with Trichoderma viride powder, then sealing with clay, or Blu-Tack.

This has been very effective with no recurrence so far.

PLUM (Prunus domestica)

Soil & Site:

Plums like deep loam or clay soils that are well drained, with a soil pH of 6.0-6.5. For heavy clays break up the bottom of the planting hole.

See the section:

'GROWING TREE FRUIT'PLANTING TREE FRUIT to create the ideal conditions for your young tree.


Myrobalan: semi-vigorous – 5m (16½ft)

Saint Julian: semi-vigorous – 4.5m (15ft)

Ferlenain: semi-dwarfing – 3m (10ft)

Mont Clare: semi-dwarfing – 3m (10ft)

VVA1: semi-dwarfing – 2.5m (8ft)

Torrinel 24: semi-dwarfing – 2.4-3m (8-10ft)

Coe’s Golden Drop


Coe’s Golden Drop: A great mid to late season plum. Large oval, yellow fruit both rich in taste and with juicy flesh. Best planted with English Greengage for cross-pollination.                                    English Greengage: Very popular, succulent, sweet, small green fruit with intense, unique flavour. Mid to late season. Best planted with Coe’s Golden Drop for cross-pollination.

English Greengage

Burbank: is a large, round, dark red fruit and sweet, juicy, aromatic, yellow flesh. Crops regularly and heavily. Japanese variety. Mid-season. Expect fruit once tree is 2-4 years old. Partially self-fertile, but is best planted with Santa Rosa for cross-pollination.

Santa Rosa: is the Queen of all plums! Developed by Luther Burbank, it is among the highest flavoured plums in the world. Medium to large purple skinned fruit with yellow tinged pink, juicy, tangy flesh. Japanese variety. Early to mid-season. Self fertile.

Damson: This was one of our favourite wild plums in the UK. A highly productive variety of small oval fruit with blue skin and yellow flesh. It has a unique slightly tart, fresh taste when fully ripe. Great for jam, bottling and drying. A compact grower that is best in colder areas. European variety. Expect fruit once tree is 3-4 years old. Self fertile.


Plant bare-rooted trees after leaf fall in the late autumn, while the soil is still warm and the roots will continue to grow for some time, establishing the tree.

Support & Training:

A temporary cane support is used for very young freestanding trees, but I would suggest growing as a fan or espalier on wires or against a sunny wall, for easy maintenance, pruning, netting and picking. However, be careful not to use wire ties to tie the branches as chafing can let in the spores of the deadly silver leaf disease. Use strips of old tights or strips of inner tubing, or proprietary tree ties that will stretch, but not cut. 


During the growing season we spray the trees every two or three weeks with liquid seaweed or compost tea with added liquid seaweed, which feeds them with essential trace elements and Potassium that encourages fruiting and helps to keep them healthy.

Our espalier trained English Greengage with White Alyssum growing underneath


For young freestanding trees, mulch with about 7-10cm (3-4in) spray-free straw on a metre circle of bare soil. With our espalier trees we have a 60cm (2ft) bare strip the length of the tree’s spread, covered with a mulch of compost and a living mulch of White Alyssum, (see photo above), which helps to attract beneficial predatory insects.


In late autumn apply one bucket per square metre of garden compost around the perimeter of the tree where the feeding roots are, or along the strip for espalier or fan trained trees; as well as regular spraying or watering of liquid seaweed throughout the season (as above).


Netting against birds will be necessary as the fruit ripens – easier for espalier and fan trained trees.


Late pruning in spring reduces canker infections in pruning cuts and allows you to remove winter-killed branches. Plums can also be pruned in the autumn immediately after fruit picking.

Harvesting & Preserving:

Pick when the fruit starts to get slightly soft and sweet and comes of the tree easily – taste one or two (or more) to test. For Bottling, Drying and Pickling, see: APRICOT


Graft onto recommended rootstock – see Rootstocks above.

Possible Pests & Diseases:

Pests: include aphids in the spring, pear slug in summer, and bird eating the fruit.

Aphids:Preventative Garlic & Seaweed Spray’ should keep them at bay. If they get out of hand, use home made ‘Traditional Indian Insecticide Spray’ – see the section 'Pests & Diseases'.

Pear Slugs: See: PEAR for details.


Silverleaf: is a fungus disease that is easily contracted and readily kills or debilitates plum trees. The leaves take on a silvery hue and then may turn brown. There is a progressive dieback of leading shoots, which will have purple-brown or white fungi on the dead wood. As the fungus enters open wounds always prune in the growing season when the cuts heal quickly. If you catch it early you may succeed in stopping it. Cut back all dead growth to at least 15cm (6in) past the infected point. As soon as the symptoms are seen, insert powder of the parasitic fungus Trichoderma viride into three or four 4mm (¼in) diameter deep holes drilled 2cm (¾in) into the trunk and plug with clay or BluTack.

Bacterial blast: is not really treatable, so again it is best to avoid it. It is often inherited from poor nurseries. It is best to remove and burn the trees.

Other more minor problems are Shothole and Bladder plum. Both have susceptible and resistant varieties that can be selected to avoid the problem.

POMEGRANATE (Punica granatum)

Size - 2 x 3 metres (6½ x 10ft). 

Great in containers or as a specimen in the garden why not be different, try as an espalier.

Fruits in early autumn. 

• Reasonable levels of vitamin C, K and B6,

• Good levels of potassium, copper, pantothenic acid, ellagic acid and flavonoids. Reasonable levels of vitamin C, K and B6,

• Good levels of potassium, copper, pantothenic acid, ellagic acid and flavonoids.  

Soil & Site:

Will tolerate most soil conditions providing it is well drained. It thrives in hot dry summers but requires moisture during fruiting stage from late summer to late autumn. They are frost tolerant.


They are grown on their own roots.


Wonderful: flowers over a long period from late spring through summer. Very large round dark purple-red fruit with medium-thick rind. Deep red juicy, winey pulp with medium hard seeds. First propagated in California in 1896. Compact tree. Vigorous and productive. Self-fertile.


Spacing of plants 5-6m (16-19½) apart and cut the stems of young trees back to allow root establishment.


Young trees need regular irrigation


Mulch around trees with 10cm (4in) spray-free straw, or 5cm (2in) bark chips.


Young trees need a general fertiliser with extra nitrogen. Once established they need little or no extra nutrients.


Shield from cold southerly winds.


Lightly prune after fruiting, to a desired shape this will encourage new growth. Fruits on new season wood.

Harvesting & Preserving:

Harvest in late autumn/early winter, 5-7 months after flowering. Will not ripen after harvest.


Hardwood cuttings are the most widely used method. You should take 15-25cm (6-10in) long cuttings from autumn to late winter, off of one year old wood.

Possible Pests & Diseases:

Pomegranates are generally pest and disease free, but minor problems are leaf and fruit spot, which can be sprayed with Trichoderma viride powder mixed thoroughly into water, or liquid if you can get it.

QUINCE (Cydonia oblonga)

This is a strange tree with strange fruit looking like a large ugly pear, and the raw fruits are inedible, but don’t let this put you off, because when cooked they taste gorgeous!

The tree is large; it grows 5 to 8m (16 to 26ft) high and 4 to 6m (13 to 20ft wide given a chance. It is native to rocky slopes and woodland margins in South-West Asia, Turkey and Iran, but is very hardy. 

Quince is not only resistant to frost, but requires a cold period below 7°C (44½°F) to flower properly. It is self-fertile.

Soil & Site:

They prefer a pH of between 6.0 and 6.5. Lime the soil if tests show the pH to be below 6.0. Plant in a sunny place.


They are grown on their own roots.


Van Deman: has a large, oblong-pear shaped, bright yellow-orange fruit. The flesh is pale yellow with a good, spicy flavour. Early ripening. Heavy bearing and hardier than most cultivars.

Smyrna: is a popular Turkish variety. Fruit is large to very large, furrowed, oblong, pear-shaped, golden-yellow and very aromatic. Flesh is mild, tender, and is of excellent quality. The fruit keeps very well. Moderately vigorous tree.


(See: 'GROWING TREE FRUIT'Planting Tree Fruit)

Support & Training:

Stake very young trees for first year. Train as an open vase shape.


Spray several times during growing season with liquid seaweed.


Mulch around trees with 10cm (4in) spray-free straw, or 5cm (2in) bark chips.


Spread 1 bucket of garden compost per square metre (yard) around tree in late winter.

Pruning: (See the section: 'GROWING TREE FRUIT' - PRUNING)

Harvesting & Preserving:

Quinces are ripe when they become yellow and give off a strong aroma. They will keep well in boxes, like apples.


Quinces are usually propagated from hardwood cuttings. The cuttings should be taken in late autumn or early winter and should be about 25cm (10in) long.

Possible Pests & Diseases:


Codling Moth: can be a problem – see: APPLE


Fire Blight: see: PEAR


Here is a quote from Nigel Slater’s website to give you some ideas:

“I have braised them with lamb, adding honey, fresh ginger and saffron; roasted them with pork and marsala and baked them at a leisurely pace, basting the halves of fruit as they roasted with butter, lemon and sugar. Once I tried to capture their fragrance in an ice – and failed. Once it has been baked or poached, the flesh becomes soft and almost Turkish delight-like. A quince in this state will benefit from a crisp crust. Best so far has been a crumble, rough as pebbledash, where I tossed together flour, butter, almonds and breadcrumbs and sweetened it with light, butterscotch-scented muscovado. The effect of a single quince in an apple pie, which introduces a delicious hint of perfume to the filling, is well known, but it is worth cooking the quince for a little while first, as its rock-hard flesh takes longer to submit to the heat of the oven than any apple.”

Quince Cheese

Quince cheese is a thick spread. It is best made with slightly unripe fruit as they have more pectin in for setting. It is great to spread on bread or use as a condiment.


• 3kg (6½ pounds) quinces

• Water

• Sugar to measure


1. You don’t need to peel or core them, just cut them up and place in a pan and just cover with water.

2. Gently simmer for about 1 hour until soft.

3. Pass through a sieve or mouli and measure the pulp.

4. For every 6ooml (20floz) of pulp add 500g (1 pound) sugar and return to saucepan.

5. Bring to the boil and then simmer, stirring frequently until thick and a deep rose colour.

6. Test if it’s ready by pouring a little paste onto a cold plate, let it cool and then run your finger through it. If it leaves a trail through the paste it is ready.

7. Pour into a baking tray lined with cooking paper and leave to set overnight.

8. If needed you can dry it further by placing in an oven set at 600C (1400F) over several days until firm.

9. The cheese will last for 12-18 months in a cool dark place.

TAMARILLO (Solanum betaceum)

Tamarillos are members of the Tomato (Solanaceae) family and are a good source of Vitamin A, B6, C and E. Rich in iron and potassium. They have a fresh sweet-sour taste. They were originally known as ‘tree tomatoes’ and are natives of the Andean region of Bolivia and northwest Argentina. 

An Auckland nurseryman bred the most popular red varieties in New Zealand in the 1920's. These trees are definitely plants for warmer climates with Mediterranean or mild Mediterranean or sub tropical climates, because they don’t like frost.

Soil & Site:

Tamarillos have a shallow root system, so apply two buckets of well-rotted garden compost per square metre (yard), plus 2 handfuls of Eco or Organic Fertiliser, dug in before planting. They will not survive well in areas with air frosts of lower than -30C (26½0F). It is best to plant them up against a warm sheltered sunny wall. The plants have to be protected from wind, because their shallow root system does not provide enough stability, and the branches are fragile and break easily when carrying fruits.


They can be grafted onto seedling stock, but are usually struck from cuttings and are grown on their own roots.


Tango: Cluster of pink fragrant flowers appear in spring within 18 months from planting. Followed by medium sized red/orange fruit. Very sweet and low in acidity.

Red Beau: Cluster of pink fragrant flowers appear in spring within 18 months from planting. Followed by large bright red oval fruit with an excellent acidic flavour.

Bold Gold: Cluster of pink fragrant flowers appear in spring within 18 months from planting. Followed by large golden fruit, which is sweet and less acidic than the red varieties.

Teds Red: Cluster of pink fragrant flowers appear in spring within 18 months from planting. Followed by large almost round bright red fruit.



Plus add one handful of Neem Tree granules or into the planting hole to help stop Tomato/Potato Psyllid.

Support & Training:

Support for the first year by tying to a stake.


Because of their shallow root systems they need a lot of water, high organic matter and mulching. Apply one bucket of well-rotted garden compost every autumn and re-mulch.


Mulch around trees with 10cm (4in) spray-free straw, or 5cm (2in) bark chips.


Water the soil with liquid seaweed after flowering, and spray the foliage with liquid seaweed a few times during the growing season.


Cutting the tip of young plants leads to the desired branch height. Once the tree shape has been formed, pruning is reduced to the removal of old or dead wood and previously fruited branches, since branches that have already carried fruits will produce smaller fruits with lower quality the next time. Light pruning leads to medium sized fruit; heavy pruning will encourage large sized fruits. Shoots from the base should be removed.

Harvesting & Preserving:

Pick when fully coloured and slightly squashy when pressed. They can simply be cut in half and the flesh eaten fresh, or they can be made into compotes, or added to stews (e.g. Boeuf Bourguignon), hollandaise, chutneys and curries.


They can be grown from saved seed if there are no other varieties in the vicinity, to which they may have crossed. Plants grown from cuttings branch out earlier and result in more shrub-like plants that are more suitable for exposed sites. Cuttings should be made from basal and aerial shoots, and should be virus free. Plants grown from cuttings should be kept in a nursery bed until they reach a height of ½m (1½ft).

Possible Pests & Diseases:


Tomato/Potato Psyllid: As tamarillos are members of the Solanaceae family (tomatoes, egg plants, potatoes, peppers, etc.) they are subject to the same diseases, the most important at the moment is the tomato/potato psyllid native to North America, which is now in Australia and New Zealand.

Nymphs and possibly adults inject bacteria into the plants when they feed. This bacteria causes discolouration of leaves and the plant becomes stunted and the leaf edges turn up and become yellow or purple. The plants internodes shorten, new growth is retarded and crops are severely reduced.

Interestingly if the psyllids are removed early, the plant may start to grow normally again as soon as the bacteria ceases to be injected by the psyllid mites.

By adding 2 handfuls of Neem Tree granules into the planting hole, or 100g per square metre (yard) mixed into the soil, will deter the psyllid bugs. In the soil the Microbes break down the granules releasing the Neem properties that are still in the granules over time. These properties are taken up by the roots and translocate through the plant. Thus if a chewing or sucking insect feeds on the plant they receive a small dose of the Neem affecting their ability to eat again. Thus they die of starvation.


Viruses: Tamarillo mosaic virus reduces the tree’s vigour. It leaves scabs on fruits.

Fungi: Powdery mildew and other fungi produces leaf loss (defoliation). Spraying when it appears with Trichoderma viride powder mixed thoroughly into water, and then every few weeks after, will keep it in check.


Tamarillo Crumble

Serves 6


For the fruit

• 8-10 tamarillos, score the ends

• 2 apples

• 1 tablespoon butter

• ¼ cup sugar

• 1 lemon, juice and zest

For the crumble topping

• 1 cup rolled oats

• 1 cup seeds and/or nuts

• ½ cup desiccated coconut

• ½ cup brown sugar

• 1 cup butter, melted


1. Boil a large pot of water and blanch tamarillos to remove the skins. They only need approximately 30 seconds in the boiling water then take them out and plunge them into ice-cold water.

2. Peel the skins once they are cool to the touch. Cut each tamarillo into quarters.

3. Peel apples and cut into 5mm (¼in) slices.

4. In a large saucepan heat a knob of butter and add the apples and sugar. Cook the apples for around 10 minutes on medium then fold in the tamarillos and lemon. Do not over-stir the fruit mixture at this point. You don’t want it to be mushy. Set aside.

5. For the crumble topping, combine the oats, seeds/nuts, coconut, sugar and melted butter. The best technique is to rub the mixture together with your hands.

6. Spoon the fruit mixture into 6 small ramekins – just under fill so you have room for the crumble topping.

7. Pack the crumble topping firmly on top of the fruit mixture.

8. Bake at 1800C (3560F) for 15-20 minutes or until the fruit boils over the sides of the ramekins.

9. Serve with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top of each crumble.

TANGELO (Citrus × tangelo)

Tangelos are a hybrid of mandarin and a grapefruit. They look like a smooth orange but taste more like tangerines.

For: Soil & Site, Rootstocks, Planting, Support & Training, Maintenance, Mulching, Feeding, Pruning, Propagation and Possible Pests & Diseases

see: LEMON