Feijoas are a great return on investment, these fairly trouble free shrubs can produce a harvest of up to 25kg per plant of delicious oblong green fruits with a sweet, tangy edible pulp inside them. Feijoas are a tropical looking fruit yet they are frost hardy and can be grown countrywide. Even in the coldest areas they can be grown in containers and protected during winter. Feijoas are rich in vitamin C and are delicious eaten fresh, they can also be used in puddings and preserves as well as made into wine.
Companions Comfrey, chives, marigold, borage, calendula
Quantity 3 plants per household
Some feijoas are self fertile – meaning they can be pollinated without the need for another plant. Others need a plant of a different variety to be growing with them for adequate pollination to take place.
Apollo produces large sweet, thin-skinned fruit with fragrant pulp in May. Grows to form a large shrub about 1 ½ times standard room height. Semi self fertile. Pollination improved by growing with Mammoth.
Unique produces an early crop of medium-sized, rough-skinned, juicy and fragrant fruits in March and April. Self fertile so can be grown alone.
Mammoth produces elongated fruits with a sweet, juicy pulp in May and June. Needs the company of another variety like Triumph for pollination.
Triumph produces medium sized oval fruits with aromatic, sweet flavour around June. Good for cross pollinating with Mammoth.
Plant container grown plants in spring.
Plant feijoas in full sun – though they will tolerate some partial afternoon shade. They can handle windy locations as well as winter cold.
Feiojas are great in containers such as half barrels. This means you can put them in your sunniest spot – say on a deck or terrace - if your veg garden doesn’t happen to be big on suntraps.
Feijoas grow in most soils from clay to sandy but they are most at home in rich soil with well-rotted organic material that helps to hold onto moisture without becoming water-logged. If your soil is sandy or slightly sticky and you want to improve it, you can add peat and well-rotted compost at the time of planting and continue to mulch with rich compost and pine needles as your plants get established. You can always grow feijoas in a raised bed filled with peat and well-rotted organic compost if you have a really sticky clay soil.
To grow a hedge space plants a stride apart. Otherwise plant them at least two strides apart if they are to grow as individuals. Soak plants in water before planting them.
Prepare the planting area. Soil should be weed-free and well dug through to at least a full spade’s depth. Add well-rotted compost and peat if necessary and mix with surrounding garden soil. Carefully remove feijoa plants from containers by turning them upside down and holding the plant across the base of its stem with a spread hand. Tap the bottom of the container until the plant and its root ball come loose. Handle plants by the root ball to prevent damage to stems and shallow roots. Place feijoa plant in a hole that is just larger than the container it came in. Back fill around root ball making sure there are no air pockets. Water well and mulch with a finger-thick layer of peat, pine needles, shredded bark or untreated sawdust.
If planting in a container ensure it is large enough. Half barrels look good with feijoas and they are the right size too. Use a rich compost with peat in it and plenty of organic material. Add slow release granules or sheep pellets before planting. When feijoas are grown in containers it pasy to pu them where you’ll easily monitor them to ensure soil is moist – particularly in dry weather.
Keep plants weed free and maintain constant moisture levels – this is especially important in the weeks during which the fruit swell and ripen.
Feed: As long as you maintain a nutrient rich layer of mulch around their base this should give them all they need but to give plants a boost you can feed them with a sprinkling of blood and bone meal around outer edge of foliage in spring and summer. Container grown plants may need more regular feeding with a constant layer of mulch maintained at all times and a sprinkling of blood and bone meal every spring and summer.
Flowering: Depending on variety, feijoas flower from early spring to early summer. Flowers are pollinated by birds and bees, birds eat the sweet flower petals and take pollen with them to other flowers. Flowers are edible, their sweet tasting petals can be added to fruit salads.
Fruit ripen in autumn and winter depending on variety. They fall when ripe but this can result in bruising and poor quality. Plants are often shaken with a tarp on the ground beneath them to catch fruit and cushion their fall. Alternatively you can pick fruit individually by hand – try and pick when they yield slightly rather than feeling as hard as bullets. Once picked, feijoas will become sweeter after a day or so – if they are allowed to sit around for that long. Feijoas are used to make cakes and muffins as well as juices, wines and preserves.
Storage: Feijoas will remain good for about a week or so once harvested depending on their ripeness when picked. Cutting them across the middle and scooping out the sweet pulp with a spoon is the generally preferred option but where tools are absent you can score the skin with your thumbnail and prize fruit apart in the middle. The delicious pulp can then be squeezed into a hungry mouth.
Pruning is kept to a minimum with dead, diseased and crossing stems that are rubbing each other being removed. Generally they say a bird should be able to fly through a feijoa bush to pollinate the flowers so remove excess growth from the middle to maintain an open centre. Thin spindly stems are also cut back. You can prune your plants to improve their shape any time and hedges can be trimmed hard after harvest but this will interrupt fruiting for a season.
Feijoas are relatively trouble free if given the right growing conditions. Scale insects may have a go at them as well as leaf roller caterpillars. Spray with Neem oil in spring to interrupt scale insect breeding. Leaf roller caterpillars attack the buds at the growing tip of stems, parasitic wasps parasitize the larvae so try and encourage them by avoiding use of chemical sprays. You can buy organic sprays to treat any major infestations.