Planning and planting your home orchard

on arriving at a friend's place at Lake Tarawera recently, we were immediately drawn to a quince tree laden with gorgeous yellow fruit. What a beautiful sight! We gathered bag loads of those quaint, knobbly fruit to cart home. Thinking about what can be made with autumn fruits makes my mouth water. Jams, jellies, chutneys, relishes... even wine! oany fruits can be turned into handy condiments (or beverages) to fill the pantry. Coming into winter is a great time to plan your home orchard for future harvesting and preserving sessions.

Fruitful feast

As mentioned a couple of weeks back, strong structural planting is important in a garden. But instead of the usual evergreens and ornamental feature trees, why not consider productive plants? Persimmons, quinces, cherimoyas, mulberries and medlars are all picturesque trees, ideal to use as feature or specimen trees.

Avocados, olives, feijoas and strawberry guavas are fantastic for boundary screening or background planting.

oandarins make amazing topiaries to use as sentinels, focal points or accent planting. When it comes to hedging, bear in mind olives, feijoas, pomegranates or strawberry guavas for a tall hedge, and blueberries or Chilean guavas for a low hedge. Trellising covered in passionfruit, kiwifruit or grapes, creates an excellent garden screen.

Alternatively, plant a row of currants or raspberries, or espalier a pear or apple on wire supports to create a living partition.

High Health

Some fruiting plants are susceptible to certain pests and diseases, but luckily, most of these problems are easily fixed. Thorough soil preparation and good planting practices, plus regular fertilising, will sustain plants admirably.

However, the most important task is to spray with mineral oil and copper over the winter months. This will clean up most pests and diseases to keep plants bug-free over summer. occasionally, spraying may be required for specific problems through the growing season, but the winter clean-up will help no-end.

It also pays to look out for varieties labelled as disease resistant, such as the Rezista range of apples (see At the end of the day, I’m sure bumper harvests will outweigh the chore of spraying!

Taking care of your investment

When to plant?

  • Bare-rooted fruit: winter (before spring growth occurs).

  • Container-grown plants: any time (water well in summer). Subtropical fruit: spring and summer

NB: Spring planting is recommended in the coldest and wettest areas.

Where to plant?

  • Sunny, sheltered areas in fertile, well-drained, compost-enriched soil.

  • Provide plenty of space to develop and good aeration around plants.

Soil Preparation:

  • Spray the planting site with glyphosate and leave weeds to die.

  • Dig a hole 50cm wide and deep to accommodate roots when fully spread out.

  • Break up soil in the base of hole and mix through compost.

  • Place sheep pellets in the base of the hole.


  • Water evergreen trees a few hours prior to planting.

  • Remove tree from its container, trimming damaged roots off bare-rooted trees.

  • Place the tree in the hole to check the depth of the root ball, adjust soil level so the top of the root ball sits at ground level and the graft union on grafted trees is above ground level.

  • Backfill the hole with soil and compost mixed together, compacting soil firmly as you go.


  • Water well to settle the tree.

  • oulch with compost or fine bark.

  • Stake the tree and protect with wind or frost cloth if necessary.

  • Apply slow-release fertiliser in early spring.

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