The Edible Garden: Growing Crops In Your Back Yard

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I live on a 565 square metre property in Wellington, New Zealand in the Southern Hemisphere which has a temperate climate. The four seasons, Autumn, Winter, Spring and summer are not extreme as Wellington climate is windy by the sea so does not get cold frosts as locations do in more central areas. My aim in designing my edible garden is to grow fruit and vegetables that we like to eat, but also that produce quantity that can be harvested over a longer period.

I have used a few strategies to grow more varieties in a small space. I have two lemon meyer trees planted in the front garden, one with some wind protection netting as it was getting leaf drop from the cold southerly winds. The lemon meyer usually fruits all year round although it has more growth in spring. Alongside this is the Tahitian Lime tree which is similar with its fragrant lemon/lime fruit. During spring, I water these weekly to fortnightly with a citrus fertisliser. The Lemon tree needs a little fertiliser and often.

I have five Feijoa trees planted along the fence at the front of the section abut 1-1.5 metres apart that will grow into a hedge. These varieties will produce fruit at different times to get a longer harvest time from March to May.

In the back of the section, there are three dwarf Heritage apple trees, specifically selected from the nursery for their reputation as being disease resistant and with benefits against cancer. I will prune these trees so they remain about 2 metres by 2 metres, pruned a vase method. I cut the trees back to just above the knee, where there were three shoots that would grow into three evenly spaced branches.

The four dwarf pear trees at the back of the section were planted one metre in from the fence so they would get sun and are against a post and a 3-horizontal wire system as they grow as espalier trees. These trees were also pruned to about knee height with three shoots – one to each side and one central shoot. The aim is to let the side shoots grow along the wires and the central trunk to grow to the next wire where they will be pruned in a similar way. These pear trees were selected to be where possible heritage trees, disease resistant and fruiting at different times.

At the left side of the garden, two dwarf mandarin trees are growing. Although citrus trees are not commonly grown as espalier, but commonly as a bush, this allows me to grow some citrus where otherwise there would be no space.

Three cranberry bushes grow in the garden alongside the lounge. These will produce small berries, the quantity increasing as the plants mature. In a similar way, two blueberry bushes are planted to grow berries to pick – these are expensive to buy and are not invasive or have thorns as many of the other berry species.