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'Fruit of the Gods'

Autumn weather is perfect for gardening and there are so many fantastic plants to sow, grow and enjoy.

What’s a Fuyu?If you’ve seen fruit labelled as ‘Fuyu’ in your local fruit shop and wondered what it was, it’s a type of non-astringent persimmon.

Persimmons (Diospyros kaki, which loosely translates to ‘Fruit of the Gods’) are deciduous fruit trees which have striking autumn foliage colours, and delicious and very decorative orange-red fruit which are harvested during autumn. The colourful fruit often hang on the tree well after the leaves have fallen, prolonging the colourful display.

Persimmons fall into two groups — astringent and non-astringent. Non-astringent persimmons such as Fuyu, Matsumoto Wase Fuyu and Jiro can be eaten while they’re still crisp and firm. Heart-shaped astringent persimmons, such as Hira Tanenashi need to be fully ripened and very soft and jelly like before being eaten. This helps to reduce the tannin levels in the fruit (which creates the bitter taste).

Sweet, honey-flavoured persimmons are rich in vitamins A, B and C, as well as manganese and potassium. They’re also high in fibre, low in calories and contain beneficial antioxidants. Persimmons can be eaten fresh, dried, added to salads and also used in desserts, chutneys and muffins.

Fuyu are hardy self-pollinating persimmons that reach around 4m tall and will grow well in cool, temperate and sub-tropical climates. Choose a spot that is sheltered from strong winds, as the fruit laden branches can break easily. Persimmons can also be grown in medium to large pots.

Persimmons are most commonly planted during winter as bare-rooted trees however can also be available as potted trees which are great for planting during autumn.

Feed persimmons in early spring and again in autumn with Yates Thrive Natural Sulfate of Potash, which promotes lots of heavenly tasting fruit and is boosted with NZ seaweed to encourage strong root growth and improved plant health.

Harvesting tip: it will take at least three years for persimmon trees to bear fruit. To avoid damaging the fruit, it’s best to use secateurs to harvest persimmons. leaving a small section of stem.

Kaffir LimesKaffir limes (Citrus hystrix) are primarily grown for their richly fragrant leaves, that are an essential ingredient in Thai cooking. The leaves have a distinctive lobed appearance and can be used fresh or dried. Aromatic zest from the small knobbly fruit can also be used, as can the tart juice.

The trees grow up to 4m tall and can be planted in a full sun position in either a well-drained spot in the garden or in a pot on a sunny balcony or patio. Pot-grown kaffir limes are a great option for cool areas, as the container can be positioned in a warm protected spot, with kaffir lime trees doing best in temperate to tropical climates.

Feed kaffir lime trees each week from spring to autumn with Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food, which is a complete and easy to apply fertiliser that contains the correct balance of nutrients to promote healthy citrus growth.

Citrus collar rot preventionCitrus love moist but well-drained soil, which creates a healthy environment for their roots to thrive and lower trunks to remain dry and healthy. Poorly-drained soil or prolonged wet weather can lead to the development of root and collar rot diseases. These diseases affect the ability of the citrus trees to effectively absorb soil moisture, leading to wilting, poor plant health and sometimes plant death if left untreated.

To help reduce the incidence of citrus collar and root rot diseases:

Remove lower hanging branches of citrus trees to improve air flow around the trunk.Applying mulch over the root zone is very beneficial, helping to keep the roots moist. However, keep mulch away from touching the trunk itself, as this can keep the trunk wet which can promote collar rot. Apply Yates Liquid Copper Fungicide onto the stems where cankers appear, after removing any dead tissue. Repeat applications, up to a maximum of five per season, until natural healing has commenced.Autumn citrus care Autumn is a busy season for ripening of citrus fruit. Unless you’re getting regular autumn rains, give citrus a deep drink each week. Inadequate soil moisture can affect fruit quality and overall plant health, so it’s important to ensure the water is getting down into the soil.

To help keep citrus leaves healthy and green and nourish the developing fruit, feed each week with Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food. It contains a special blend of nitrogen to promote green leaf growth, phosphorus for strong root development and potassium to encourage flowering, healthy plants and quality fruit. Just mix two capfuls into a 9L watering can and apply around the root zone of in-ground and potted citrus.

And check your citrus for signs of scale, which are small sap-sucking insects that hide under a white, grey, brown or pink waxy dome. There may also be ants travelling up and down the stems, that are attracted to the sweet honeydew that scale excrete.

Control scale by spraying stems and leaves thoroughly with Yates Conqueror Spraying Oil, approved for use in organic gardening.

It’s sweet pea timeWhether it’s enjoying a posy of home grown sweet peas, sweet peas cascading from a hanging basket or a fence or tripod covered in sweet peas in spectacular full bloom, sweet peas are a beautiful flower to have in your garden. It’s sweet pea sowing time, so now is your chance to decide where you would like to have this gorgeous flower on show.

Tall-growing sweet pea varieties that are ideal for creating walls of colour include delicately patterned Sweet Pea Patricia Ann, beautifully fragrant Sweet Pea Colourcade and vibrant Sweet Pea Original. Compact varieties that are perfect for pots and hanging baskets include Sweet Pea Bijou.

Steps to a very pretty sweet pea display:

1. Sow seed around 15mm deep into a garden bed or pot, firm down and water in well. If your soil is acidic (low pH) apply some Yates Hydrangea Pinking Liquid Lime & Dolomite. This will help to raise the soil pH (make it more alkaline), which sweet peas prefer.

2. Only water again sparingly until seedlings emerge in around a fortnight. Too moist soil can lead to the seeds rotting.

3. Once the seedlings are around 5cm tall, start feeding each week with Yates Thrive Roses & Flowers Liquid Plant Food. This fast- acting complete fertiliser provides nitrogen for healthy leaf growth, phosphorus for strong root development and potassium for lots of lovely sweet pea flowers.

4. Tall varieties will need to be grown on a frame, trellis or tepee. Young seedlings may need to be supported with small twigs or bamboo skewers until they can reach their trellis.

Sweet peas take around 12-14 weeks to flower. Cut handfuls of deliciously scented flowers for a vase so you can bring their gorgeousness inside.

Flower care: protect new sweet pea seedlings from destructive snails and slugs with a light sprinkling of Yates Blitzem Snail & Slug Pellets.

Persimmon trees have striking autumn foliage colours, and delicious and very decorative orange-red fruit.