Urban Food Garden

Feijoa

Feijoa (also known as the pineapple guava) is a hardy tree that produces an unusual tasting fruit at a time when few other fruit bearing trees have ripe fruit on them.  It also makes a good windbreak.

DESCRIPTION AND ORIGIN

Feijoa sellowiana is a species of flowering plant in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae.  It is a slow growing evergreen tree that can grow two to five metres high and almost as wide. The leaves are thick and leathery with a shiny green colour on top and silvery underneath.  It produces bright red flowers in early Summer and the fruit ripen from late Autumn to early Winter. The fruit is about the size of a chicken egg. It has a sweet, aromatic flavour, which tastes like fruit salad.  The flesh is juicy and is divided into a clear, gelatinous seed pulp and a firmer, slightly granular, opaque flesh nearer the skin.  The seeds are  small and soft, making them easy to digest. 

 It is native to the highlands of southern Brazil, eastern Paraguay, Uruguay, northern Argentina, and Colombia. 

PLANT INFORMATION sUMMARY
  • CLIMATE SUITABILITY
    Grows best in warm temperate to sub-tropical climates but can tolerate cold temperate climates with protection.  Grows well in Ballarat’s climate.
  • HEIGHT WHEN ESTABLISHED
    2 to 5 metres. But can be contained by pruning.
  • FROST TOLERANCE
    Hardy.
  • POLLINATION
    Some varieties are self-pollinating but others are not.  Best to grow at least two trees to ensure proper pollination.
  • LEAF GROWTH
    Evergreen.
  • HARVEST MONTHS
    May and June (late autumn and early winter, southern hemisphere).
CULTIVATION

Feijoas will grow in a wide variety of soils but will do better if the ground is well drained. They are fairly salt tolerant.   Though some varieties are self-pollinating they produce better when cross pollinated, so it is best to grow at least two trees to ensure proper pollination. 

Plant as you would for citrus trees.  See PLANTING CITRUS TREES.

Pruning is generally not required, though a light prune just after harvesting will encourage new growth for the next season. When planted close together Feijoas can be pruned into a hedge or used as a wind break.

While Feijoas will tolerate quite dry conditions crop yields will be improved with irrigation. They don’t need fertiliser to produce a good crop but adding some well-rotted down manure or slow release fertiliser will improve the yield. 

pest control

Feijoa trees are very resistant to pests and diseases.  Birds to sometimes eat the fruit, but they prefer other types of fruit and tend to leave the feijoas alone.  They may be troubled by wax scales, but not to the extent that wax scales can infest citrus trees.  
Fruit fly will infest the fruit of feijoa trees, but as of May 2022 there are no fruit flies present in the Ballarat area.

Some harvested ripe fruit showing how big they can get.  The fruit falls to the ground when ripe, but it may be picked from the tree prior to falling to prevent bruising. 

A feijoa that has been halved and quartered to show the interior of the fruit.  The flesh is juicy and is divided into a clear, gelatinous seed pulp and a firmer, slightly granular, opaque flesh nearer the skin. 

One problem with feijoa trees is that the harvest is short and intense.  Our two trees produce way more fruit than can be eaten or preserved.  While we use as much of the fruit as we can and give away a lot more there is usually a large unharvested windfall each season, as seen in this photo.

ADVANTAGES SUMMARY

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ADVANTAGES

  • Very hardy.
  • Produces fruit when no other ripe fruit is available.
  • Resilient to pest attack and diseases.
  • Makes an excellent hedge row

DISADVANTAGES SUMMARY

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DISADVANTAGES

  • The harvest season is short and the crop heavy, often resulting in an excess of fruit.
  • The excessive fruit windfall has the potential to attract rats
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