Bermuda has long been known for its delicious juicy citrus; however, the same success can be achieved with many other varieties of soft fruits, such as peaches, nectarines, apples and sweet pears, just to name a few.
Growing your own fruit can be very rewarding, but to be successful and reap the benefits regular time must be spent maintaining your trees with the proper care.
Most home gardeners want small fruit trees that produce enough fruit for their own needs and some to give away to friends. Through deliberate pruning, it is possible to control the size and shape of your fruit trees regardless of the type. Growing fruit trees to a height of 6–12 feet, with most of the fruit within easy reach, is far more satisfactory than climbing ladders to a height in excess of 20 feet.
With the average homeowner limited in space, keeping fruit trees small allows for several varieties to be accommodated rather than just a single tree. Planting several different varieties can also extend the fruiting and harvesting season for many weeks.
PEACH VARIETIES BEST SUITED FOR BERMUDA:
BONITA Medium to large fruit. Red-blushed skin. Yellow flesh. Ripens later in the season.
FLORIDA PRINCE A popular, proven peach. Medium-sized fruit. Red-blushed skin with dark red stripes over yellow. Firm, yellow flavourful flesh. Heavy producer. Ripens mid-May.
TROPIC SNOW Skin is white with red blush. White sweet flesh. Ripens early season.
EARLIGRANDE Large fruit. Yellow skin with red blush. Firm excellent flavour, fine texture, yellow flesh. Ripens late April to late May.
EARLY AMBER Medium-sized fruit with a yellow flesh. Ripens early- to mid-May.
SUNRED Bright red skin. Firm yellow flesh, sweet, good flavour. Semi-freestone. Ripens mid-May to early June.
SNOW QUEEN Sweet, juicy, early season, white-fleshed freestone. Self-fertile. Ripens late June.
FIGS have also been grown here for many years, fruiting in abundance. Varieties to look for: BROWN TURKEY Medium to large, bell-shaped. Purplish-brown skin, light strawberry flesh.
TEXAS (EVERBEARING) Medium to large, bell-shaped. Brownish-yellow skin.
Soft fruits need a specific number of chilling hours before they will produce fruit. Chilling refers to the number of hours, 45 degrees F or below, during the dormancy period. The amount varies with each variety and the hours need not be continuous; however, it is imperative the correct varieties are grown to ensure optimum fruit production.
MANGOS have been cultivated in India for over 4000 years and are another fruit tree that is quickly gaining popularity with Bermuda’s home gardener. Several large fruiting trees can be found around the island producing an abundant harvest of delicious red-gold fruit.
HADEN, LIPPENS, KEITT, VALENCIA PRIDE, GOUVEIA and GOMERA are all available for purchase at Aberfeldy Nurseries.
LOCATION IS KEY WHEN SELECTING A SITE FOR YOUR FRUIT TREES
A mango tree can mature into a 30–45-foot tree and perform as an attractive shade tree. The roots are not invasive or destructive in nature. Mangos can be pruned and shaped to a much more manageable size and certain varieties such as KEITT can be container grown.
Soil type: Mangos adapt well and will grow in almost any type of well-drained soil. Avoid heavy, wet soil.
Planting season: Plant at a time of year when the mango won’t be subjected to cold, wet weather and is not actively growing.
TRANSPLANTING YOUR MANGO INTO THE GROUND
As with all soft fruit trees, when removing from the container, slit the container down the sides causing as little disruption to the root ball as possible.
Dig a hole the depth of the container and three times as wide. Slide the tree out of the pot and into the centre of the hole. Backfill the hole with a mixture of three parts Bermuda soil and one part compost. Tamp the ground gently but firmly, without compacting the soil, to remove any air pockets. Water thoroughly.
Maintenance: Water your tree every three to four days after planting. Continue to water regularly for the first four to five months if rain does not fall.
FEEDING YOUR MANGO
There are many conflicting thoughts on the fertilizer programme for mangos. Fertilise when the tree is actively growing. A light dressing of a granular fertilizer, such as Aberfeldy Citrus Food 7-5-6, will provide the necessary manganese, copper, zinc and boron required to produce a healthy tree grown in Bermuda’s alkaline soil. Iron can be applied in chelated form as a soil drench twice a year. Too much nitrogen can cause shriveling (called “soft nose”) at the fruit apex.
Established trees will benefit from a feeding of potassium sulphate. Potassum sulphate improves the ability of the plant to withstand stress conditions such as drought, cold, salinity and disease. It also improves fruit quality, skin colour, aroma, size and shelf life.
Grow, eat and enjoy.
For more information contact Julie Greaves, General Manager, Aberfeldy Nurseries Ltd.
Recipe for Mango Salsa
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/2 cup peeled, diced cucumber
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalepeno
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
Salt and Pepper
Combine the mango, cucumber, jalapeno, red onion, lime juice and cilantro leaves and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.