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Good for your soul

Grow your own Christmas cherries

Cherries are the quintessential Christmas treat, with delicious shiny red fruit becoming available in summer.

A big bowl of chilled cherries is hard to resist, as are fruit and savoury salads with cherries, cherry glaze for ham, cherry puddings, cakes, tarts and cheesecake. You can never have too many cherries.

You can grow cherries at home if you live in a climate where you receive enough ‘chilling hours'. So cherries are best suited to areas with cool or cold winters. However, there are some varieties that will bear fruit in warmer areas.

Cherry trees vary in size from medium height trees down to dwarf varieties from Waimea Nurseries like ‘Compact Stella' that grows to around 3m tall, making them perfect for smaller gardens.

Other tempting varieties include:

' ‘Dawson' with richly coloured, almost black fruit that's ready for Christmas.

' ‘Rainier' with large, super sweet yellow fruit with a red blush and white flesh.

' ‘Montmorency' which is a sour cherry that is perfect for juicing and cherry pie.

' ‘Lapins' has dark red fruit with firm, juicy flesh.

In addition to delicious fruit, cherry trees also have pretty blossoms in spring and lovely autumn foliage. Cherry trees are most commonly available in winter as bare-rooted plants but potted trees can be available at other times of the year.

Choose a variety that's suited to your climate and also check to see whether that variety is self-fertile or needs pollination from another cherry. They need a spot with at least 6 hours of sunshine a day and well-drained soil.

' Cherry pest tip: pear and cherry slugs can attack and skeletonise cherry tree foliage. They can be controlled by spraying trees with Yates Nature's Way Pyrethrum Natural Insect Spray every seven days. It contains pyrethrin, which is a natural extract from the pyrethrum daisy, and controls a range of pests including pear and cherry slug.

Grow your own blueberries

If home-grown, freshly-picked blueberries sound tempting, then it's time to find a spot at your place for a blueberry bush or two. Blueberries generally prefer warm days and cool nights.

However, in warmer areas, look for ‘Southern Highbush' and ‘Rabbiteye', which have lower chill requirements.

Blueberries prefer an acidic, well-drained soil. In areas with alkaline soil (a pH higher than 7), applications of Yates Soil Acidifier Liquid Sulfur every month will help lower the soil pH.

Blueberries can also be grown very successfully in pots. Choose a good quality potting mix, such as Yates Premium Potting Mix, and a large 40–50cm diameter pot to give them enough room to grow.

Blueberries will benefit from regular applications of a complete plant food from spring to autumn.

— Courtesy of Yates

Cherries are the quintessential Christmas treat, with delicious shiny red fruit becoming available in summer.