Perfect pavlova topping

Peak passionfruit season is mid to late autumn so it’s an ideal time to start thinking of all the delicious ways to use this delectable fruit.

Perhaps spread over the top of a pavlova or cheesecake, made into sorbet, added to a tropical punch or turned into heavenly passionfruit curd.

Passionfruit can be harvested when the skin turns from green to wrinkly purple, though most fruit will fall from the vine when they’re ripe. Check for fallen fruit underneath vines regularly.

Keep passionfruit vines well-watered while the fruit are maturing as moisture stress can result in premature fruit drop.

You can start feeding passionfruit vines again in spring with a potassium rich fertiliser like Yates Thrive Natural Sulfate of Potash with Seaweed, which will help encourage lots of flowers and wonderful fruit.

 

Earl Grey anyone?

There is some controversy surrounding Earl Grey tea and how it came to be named after Charles Grey, who was the British Prime Minister from 1830 – 1834.

There are stories that the tea recipe was created by accident, that it was blended as a symbol of gratitude to Earl Grey for one of his men saving a Chinese man’s son or that it was to suit the quality of the water where Earl Grey used to live.

Whatever the real story, Earl Grey tea combines bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia) with black tea to give it its distinct flavour and aroma.

Many modern-day Earl Grey blends use bergamot flavouring or essential oil, however you can also make your own wonderfully fragrant Earl Grey tea using the intensely flavoured dried rinds of bergamot oranges.

So, if you’re a lover of Earl Grey tea (or would like to make bergamot orange marmalade), then it’s time to grow your own bergamot orange!

Bergamot orange trees are vigorous growers and can reach 5 m tall, though can be kept smaller by pruning. They’re hardy trees that need well drained soil and a full sun position that receives at least 6 hours of sunshine a day.

The fruit, that has skin the colour of lemons or limes, ripens during winter and early spring and is very acidic. Its tart juice can be used as a replacement for lemons.

When planting a new bergamot orange tree, or any citrus tree, improve the soil in the planting hole by mixing in some Yates Thrive Natural Blood Bone with Seaweed.

It contains rich organic matter to improve the quality of the soil and is a natural source of slow release nutrients and NZ seaweed to help promote good early root growth. Water the new tree in well after planting.

In spring, start feeding each week with Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food to encourage healthy leaf growth, a strong root system and lots of flowers and deliciously fragrant oranges.

 

Small space apples

If you don’t have a big backyard, being able to pick your very own apples doesn’t need to be just a dream. There are lots of varieties of apples that can grow in a sunny spot in tight spaces as well as pots, meaning that home grown apples can be a wonderful reality.

The ‘Ballerina®’ range of apples are ‘columnar’, which means they have an upright habit, making them ideal for small and narrow spaces.

Ballerina ‘Polka’ grows to around 3 m tall but only 60 cm wide, however will be smaller if grown in a pot. It has medium sized round fruit, which have green skin that develops red areas where exposed to the sun.

The apples are crisp and juicy and are delicious when eaten straight from the tree but can also be used for cooking and drying. In spring the tree is smothered in very pretty white and pink flowers, which bees adore, and produces fruit on spurs close to the main trunk.

‘Polka’ will need a pollinator to ensure the best possible fruit set and other compact apples such as Ballerina ‘Waltz’ and ‘Bolero’ are ideal. Look out for the Waimea Nurseries Ballerina range of apples in your local nursery this winter.

When planting apples in the ground, mix a handful of Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food into the bottom of the planting hole.

This not only helps to improve the soil’s water and nutrient holding capacity and structure, but also provides the apple tree with gentle, slow release organic nutrients as it establishes.

For container grown apples, choose a good quality potting mix like Yates Premium Potting Mix and a large pot with good drainage holes.


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