Boyo and I like to talk about our dream to own land one day. By land, we are usually referring to an acre or thereabouts. While I'd love to have substantially more than that, I have come to realise that owning land is a responsibility, and one which we are not necessarily skilled in. Having owned 2 residential properties, and struggled to maintain them, we have lowered our likely land total from 10 acres, down to around 1. Maybe. We don't want to get land, then find it is just a burden, so we're trying to be a bit more realistic as to what we could manage and enjoy. It will depend on what is available and what we feel capable of managing at the time...we have a few years to wait yet while we both requalify, raise Munchkin and raise a deposit.
But we still love to dream about it. I think for Boyo, the appeal is in the open space, peace and quiet. If we could add a trout stream along a boundary he would be one very, very, very happy camper. The same basic things do appeal to me, but I am the gardener of the pair so the ability to have loads and loads of fruit trees, chooks, and vege gardens is my part of the dream.
When we talk about our land at the moment, we invariably talk about our 'Top 5.' The Top 5 is our list of the very first fruit trees we'd plant. The same thing goes whether we end up buying a 500m2 residential block or an acre, we will plant some fruit trees. We each have our favourites, so somehow ended up with a Top 5 each. The idea is that these are the really special ones that we don't want to be without, the ones that get first priority. They would be followed later by another batch (maybe the Top 10 or something?), but these would form the foundation of our little 'orchard.'
Introducing the amazing feijoa!On my Top 5 is the feijoa. I chose this because it is just so yummy - tangy, sweet, hard to describe really. My Pa used to grow them up on the Thames coast (among many other fruit and veges on his 1/2 acre!). The other criteria I have for my Top 5 is that I can't buy them easily at the supermarket...making them even more important to grow at home. While nowadays you can in fact get feijoas at New Zealand supermarkets, they are still pretty expensive. They do not store well or ship well. They bruise too easily you see. Homegrown is still best. Feijoa season is autumn, around the same time as Golden Delicious apples...but by planting different varieties you can get a crop from early April through to the end of June. I would so love to do this! I have, in the past, been known to freeze feijoas whole. To eat, you defrost overnight...the skin goes a yucky greeny-brown, soft and squishy, but the flesh inside is still great to eat. I used to scoop it straight into hot porridge for some 'fresh' fruit in the middle of winter. Feijoa juices/smoothies is one of my favourite choices when out at a cafe, but mostly I just enjoy eating them fresh.
My parents have a mamoth, geriatric feijoa tree. It is HUGE. Maybe 5-10metres across and tall. The only problem is that it is very old, and isn't self-fertile like a lot of the newer varieties. Its gorgeous red flowers come earlier than any other local feijoas, so many of its fruit are not pollinated properly, and therefore don't have any pulp. This is very dissappointing, and it took us quite awhile to work out what is going wrong.
A dud one - see how the inside is hard and empty. It's not much fun to eat at all.
To get around the lack of edible fruit, I have taken to collecting the fallen fruit in a bucket (you don't pick feijoas - they fall when they are ripe). I then sit at the table, bucket beside me, knife in hand, with a plate for the good ones and a scrap container for the useless ones, and cut away. I don't mind doing this. What I do mind is going and getting a couple of feijoas and not getting to eat any because they are no good!
Here's a recent pile. Delicious!
I just love the variety my parent's backyard adds to our fruit-eating. We've finished the grapes, passionfruit, raspberries, apples and pears and are just now enjoying feijoas while the mandarins are colouring up.
Do you have a 'Top 5' of favourite fruit you consider the ultimate backyard orchard foundation?