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Sow and grow in spring

There’s still a few weeks of spring to enjoy, so sow and grow during the month of November. Try planting your own mangoes and watermelons . . .

Home-grown mangoes

As mango season begins, you might start dreaming of being able to grow your very own. If you live in the most northern parts of New Zealand, then you could try growing a mango tree, one of the most delectable fruits around.

Mangoes (Mangifera indica) need a warm, frost-free spot with well-drained soil and also do best in areas with drier weather during spring, while the trees are flowering and developing fruit.

If you’re able to find a mango tree in a garden centre, it will often be grafted, which helps ensure consistent fruit type and quality.

Mango trees can also be grown from seed. Depending on the variety and the climate, mango trees can reach up to 10m, tall however, in New Zealand’s cooler climate they will be much smaller.

Mangoes are self-pollinating, so you only need one tree to produce fruit. It’s interesting to note that flies are important pollinating insects for mangoes.

Mango trees can take up to five years to produce fruit (longer for seed-grown trees), so some patience is required.

Before planting a new mango tree, enrich the soil first by mixing in some Yates Thrive Natural Blood & Bone. Keep the new tree well-watered until it is established and apply Yates Thrive Flower & Fruit Soluble Fertiliser around the root zone every 1 to 2 weeks from spring to autumn to encourage healthy leaf and stem growth and lots of delicious fruit.

Mangoes are ready to pick when they give slightly when pressed. It’s best to cut the fruit from the tree, leaving a few centimetres of stem. Mangoes that are pulled off the stems can spurt an irritating sap onto your eyes and skin.

Disease control tip: mangoes are susceptible to anthracnose, which is a disease that causes brown or black spots on leaves, stems and fruit. To control anthracnose, spray mangoes with Yates Liquid Copper Fungicide every four weeks from the end of flowering to harvest.

Sweet, delicious Watermelons

Cool, crisp juicy slices of watermelon on a sweltering hot day are one of summer’s delights. You can grow your own watermelon at home if you have a few spare square metres in a sunny garden bed. No room left? Try growing watermelon up a sturdy trellis or over an archway. The watermelon vines will need to be trained up the supports, using soft ties and as the melons develop they may need to be supported using hessian or pantyhose slings.

Yates Watermelon Country Sweet is a high-yielding variety with medium-sized fruit with sweet, juicy red flesh.

Before planting watermelon seeds, enrich the soil with some Yates Thrive Natural Blood & Bone.

Seeds can be sown direct into the bed. Sow 3 or 4 seeds in mounds of moist soil, 1.5m apart and later thin to the two strongest plants.

Feed the plants regularly with fast-acting Yates Thrive Flower & Fruit Soluble Fertiliser, which contains nitrogen to promote strong vine growth and extra potassium to encourage the watermelon vines to flower and set their fruit.

— Courtesy of Yates

Mangoes are one of the most delectable fruits around.