Before coming to these strange and distant shores, I’d never heard of feijoas. So, it was with some trepidation that I first tasted this edible piece of Kiwiana.
The descriptions and enthusiasm of my host did little to ease my worries. The previously stoical, quiet man (who in my mind has now turned into a Wal-like caricature) suddenly became incredibly effusive. But sadly, all descriptions of their taste and flavour failed to do feijoas justice. It was only upon trying them that I got the hype.
But I doubt that taste alone explains New Zealand’s love affair. Unlike many other fruit trees, the humble feijoa just gets on with it, requiring little care to produce a mass of tasty treats. And, despite their ruggedness, they help people come together, as feijoa season becomes a time of sharing.
Before we get lost in nostalgia, it’s worth noting that many of the newer varieties produce bigger, tastier, juicier fruit than the trees of yesteryear. Smaller varieties of feijoas are also available — both bambina (grows around 1.5m) and wiki tu (around 2.5m) are perfect for smaller sections.
Position: Full sun. Prefer free-draining soils, though they will tolerate most types.
Planting: Dig a hole twice as large and as wide as the pot they came in.
Backfill the hole, mixing in compost and 3-4 handfuls of sheep pellets in with your topsoil.
Gently plant your tree into the loosened soil.
In heavier (clay) soils, a little extra work can be necessary to ensure your trees don’t sit in water. Break up the edge of your hole as you plant and, if necessary, add extra soil and plant into a slight mound.
Care: Water regularly in the drier months until plants are well established. Feed in spring and summer with sheep pellets.
Words: Billy Aiken, Kings Plant Barn
0800 plants — kings.co.nz