Selecting the Best Feijoa Variety for Your Climate
There are several feijoa varieties to choose from, depending on your climate. The Coolidge, Mammoth, and Gem varieties can tolerate cooler weather and resist spring frosts, while the Triumph and Unique varieties require long, hot summers and are better suited for warmer regions. The Wikipedia cites that feijoas are well adapted to subtropical climates, where the temperature rarely falls below -10 °C.
Before purchasing a feijoa tree, check your USDA Hardiness Zone to determine which varieties will thrive in your area. Feijoas can tolerate light frosts but need protection when young. The Coolidge and Triumph varieties are good for backyard gardens, as they are self-pollinating and bear fruit in 3-5 years. The Mammoth variety is ideal for commercial orchards, as it can produce up to 22 kg of fruit per tree when mature.
With the proper variety selected for your climate, feijoa trees can produce an abundance of flavorful fruit. Choose a spot in your garden that receives plenty of sunlight and has well-drained, fertile soil with a slightly acidic pH. Space the trees at least 5-8 meters apart. With the right conditions and care, your feijoa tree will produce deliciously fragrant fruit for 30-50 years or more.
Preparing the Soil for Feijoa Planting
The soil is the foundation for healthy, productive feijoa trees. Feijoas thrive in light, loamy, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH between 5 and 7. Before planting, test your soil to determine its pH and nutrient content. Add compost or other organic matter to improve soil structure and provide nutrients if needed.
Feijoa trees require:
- Full sun exposure for at least 6 to 8 hours per day.
- Well-draining soil – Feijoas do not tolerate sitting in water and wet roots can cause root rot. If drainage is poor, plant the tree on a slope or build a raised garden bed.
- Space for growth – Allow at least 5 to 8 meters between trees so they have enough room to develop. Feijoa trees can grow up to 10 meters tall with a spread of 6 to 8 meters.
- Fertile, organic soil – Mix in compost or composted manure before planting to provide nutrients. Replenish nutrients annually by adding compost around the base of the tree.
- Protection from Frost (Wikipedia cites that feijoas are sensitive to heavy freezes, especially when young. Cover trees or plant in a location sheltered from wind.
- Mulch – Place 5 to 10 cm of organic mulch around the base of the tree to help retain moisture in the soil, prevent weed growth, and regulate soil temperature.
[Table1: Key Factors for Healthy Feijoa Trees]
|Sun Exposure||Full sun (6 to 8 hours per day)|
|Soil Drainage||Well-drained, loamy soil|
|Soil pH||Slightly acidic (5 to 7)|
|Space||5 to 8 meters between trees|
|Soil Fertility||Composted, organic matter|
|Frost Protection||Cover young trees in cold weather|
|Mulch||5 to 10 cm deep around base of tree|
With the proper site selection and soil preparation, your feijoa tree will be poised to flourish for decades. Take the time to provide ideal conditions before planting for the healthiest, most fruitful tree.
Feijoa Planting and Care Tips for Optimal Growth
Once you have selected a variety suitable for your climate and prepared the planting site, it is time to plant your feijoa tree. Plant feijoas during early spring after the last frost.
- Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and just as deep.
- Place the tree in the hole and backfill the soil, tamping it down gently around the roots as you fill the hole.
- Water the soil thoroughly after planting.
To keep your feijoa tree healthy and productive, follow these care tips:
- Water regularly, especially for the first few years. Water feijoas when the top 10 to 15 cm of soil are dry. Drought stress can cause fruit drop and curb growth.
- Fertilize in early spring before new growth starts and again in summer. Use a balanced, organic fertilizer and follow the directions on the product packaging. Too much nitrogen can reduce fruiting.
- Prune to open up the tree canopy for better air circulation, stimulate new growth, and improve fruit quality. Remove dead or damaged branches and thin out crossing branches.
- Weed control – Remove weeds from around the base of the tree to prevent competition for water and nutrients. Apply a 5 to 10 cm layer of mulch to smother weeds.
- Pest and disease control – Some common problems for feijoa trees include fruit fly, mealybugs, scale, root-knot nematodes, and fungal leaf spot. Apply organic sprays or introduce beneficial predatory insects as needed for control.
- Repot container-grown trees every 1 to 2 years. Look for roots protruding from the drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Repot one size up and replace part of the old soil with fresh, organic potting mix.
- Bring container plants indoors before temperatures drop below freezing. Place them in a cool spot with lots of light, like a sunroom. Water sparingly until moving them back outdoors after the last spring frost.
With the proper planting and care, your feijoa tree will flourish and produce sweet, aromatic fruit for years to come. Pay attention to your tree’s needs and make adjustments as necessary to keep it growing strong.
Feijoa Pruning Techniques for High Yield
Pruning a feijoa tree helps control its size and shape, improves air circulation, and stimulates new fruiting wood growth. Feijoas produce fruit on second year and older wood, as well as vertical shoots called suckers. Pruning opens up the tree canopy allowing more light to reach inner branches, promoting new fruiting wood.
The main pruning objectives for feijoas are:
- Thin out crossing branches and stems that rub against each other. Remove any dead or damaged branches.
- Open up the center of the tree for better light penetration and air flow. This will reduce disease and result in higher quality fruit.
- Remove suckers and any shoots growing inward into the center of the tree. These will not produce much fruit and take energy away from healthy, outward-facing branches.
- Shape young trees for a balanced, open form. Pruning trees when young makes them easier to care for as they mature.
Follow these tips for maximum effectiveness:
- Prune in late winter or early spring before new growth starts. Avoid pruning in fall or winter, as this can lead to frost damage of newly exposed tissues.
- Use sharp, clean pruning tools to get clean cuts that heal quickly. Disinfect tools between cuts to avoid spreading disease.
- Do not prune more than 1/3 of the tree at one time. Overpruning will stunt growth and reduce yield for one or more seasons.
- Fertilize right after pruning to promote vigorous new growth. Place compost around the base of the tree and water thoroughly after pruning.
- Prune mature trees every 3 to 5 years to maintain shape and size. Young, establishing trees may need more frequent pruning in the first few years of growth.
- Consider rejuvenating neglected trees by removing one-third of older wood over a three year period. This will stimulate the growth of new, productive wood.
With regular pruning, your feijoa tree will develop a shape that allows for maximum productivity and ease of care. Paying attention to your tree’s growth habits yearly makes for an easy, low-impact trimming regimen.
Feijoa Pest and Disease Control
Like most fruit trees, feijoas can be affected by common insect pests and diseases. The best approach is to promote plant health through proper site selection, soil preparation, and tree care practices, which help prevent issues from arising in the first place. However, feijoa trees may still require occasional monitoring and control of:
- Fruit flies: Feijoa fruit flies puncture the skin of ripening fruit to lay their eggs inside. Control by placing pheromone traps to catch male flies before mating and prevent females from laying eggs. Cover stems/fruit with fine netting.
- Mealybugs: Mealybugs secrete honeydew and weak plant sap. They can infest leaves, twigs, and fruit. Control naturally using predator insects like lady beetles or apply insecticidal soap/oil sprays according to directions.
- Scale: Like mealybugs, soft and hard scale secrete honeydew and can infest many plant parts. Apply horticultural oil or insecticidal soap sprays, especially when crawlers are active. Prune out heavily infested branches.
- Nematodes: Root-knot nematodes feed on roots, causing galls and stunted growth. Solarize soil before planting and rotate plantings. Apply beneficial nematodes or the biofumigant Tagetes root chaff to naturally control populations.
- Fungal leaf spot: Dark spots on leaves that often drop prematurely. Promote air circulation and do not overwater. Copper sprays may be applied before rains in wet weather. Rake and dispose of fallen leaves.
Other issues like birds, possums, and chlorosis may also arise. Netting, fencing, and supplemental manganese/iron can help, respectively.
The key to managing pests and disease organically is to start with a healthy tree. Monitor your feijoa tree regularly for signs of infestation or infection and apply natural or low-toxic remedies promptly before issues become severe. An integrated approach, of using multiple preventative and control measures together, will give the best results in an environmentally friendly way.
With vigilance and care, your feijoa tree can thrive for decades to come. Staying attuned to your tree’s needs and rhythms makes for a rewarding relationship and bountiful harvests. Addressing problems early is key to successful long term feijoa cultivation.
Harvesting and Storing Feijoa for Best Flavor
With the proper care and patience, your feijoa tree will reward you with a bountiful harvest. Feijoas ripen in autumn, usually from March through June in the Southern Hemisphere. Follow these tips for harvesting and storing feijoas at their peak flavor:
- Pick feijoas once fully ripe. Look for fruit with a dimpled, slightly soft skin that gives slightly when squeezed. The petals at the blossom end will have browned and shriveled. Ripe feijoas have an strong, aromatic, floral aroma.
- Use scissors or pruning shears and handle gently. Twist or cut the fruit from the stem to avoid damaging the branch. Ripe fruit can bruise easily.
- ** Allow some slightly underripe fruit to ripen further**. Pick these when the petals are starting to brown but the fruit is still hard. Place unwashed, whole fruit in a single layer in a shallow container. Cover and check daily for ripeness. Most will ripen within 3 to 7 days.
- Refrigerate ripe feijoas promptly. Refrigeration slows deterioration and extends shelf life. Feijoas will last 10 to 14 days refrigerated.
- Freezing feijoas preserves them longer. Peel, puree and freeze the ripe fruit for 8 to 12 months. Frozen feijoa puree works well in smoothies, yogurt, and baking. For best results, prevent browning by mixing the puree with a little lemon or lime juice before freezing.
- Preserve feijoas by making chutney, jam or wine. Feijoas have a flavor that pairs excellently in preserves, chutneys and desserts. The flowers and leaves are also edible and used in teas. Nothing is wasted!
With some experimenting, you will find many uses for the versatile and delicious feijoa fruit. Sharing your harvest with others allows more people to discover and enjoy this unusual treat. Your feijoa tree, with attentive care and harvesting, will continue to produce fruit for many years.
Monitor your tree to determine the best timing for harvesting fruit at the peak of ripeness. Pay attention to subtle changes in aroma, color and firmness and you’ll develop an eye for feijoas ready for picking. Store or preserve what you do not eat fresh right away. Enjoy!