Grow your own fruit, leaves and nuts

Green Lifestyle magazine

It’s been rightly said that ‘to plant a tree is to believe in tomorrow’. Look to a fertile future with these bloomers. Everyone with outdoor space – even a balcony – has room for at least one.


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Lemons are possibly the most versatile fruit to use in the kitchen and its scented flowers are a joy in winter. As a preference they like a warm, sunny spot protected from strong winds and frosts but it is amazing what they will put up with. ‘Meyer’ is the most frost hardy variety, while ‘Lisbon’ tolerates cold and hot extremes.

Climate: Tolerates most climates; choose a variety to suit your location.
Height: 2-8 metres.
Harvest: 2-3 years.
Growing: Protect from frosts and strong winds.
Pollination: Self fertile.
Note: Good pot plant. Dwarf varieties available.


Tough as old boots, tolerant of heavy pruning and easy to propagate (take a cutting, allow white sap to dry
then stick in potting mix), there are lots of reasons why fig trees are well-known and popular. Birds and possums also love the fruit, so you‘ll have to net your tree or be prepared to share. Dozens of varieties exist so do some research – or beg cuttings from a neighbour with a reliable tree.

Climate: Mediterranean but adaptable. May not fruit in tropics.
Height: 3-6 metres.
Harvest: 2-3 years.
Growing: Needs good drainage.
Pollination: Self fertile.
Note: Perfect pot plant, fruit grows on new growth so pruning is beneficial.


With its palm-like shape, extraordinary flowers and huge leaves, a banana brings an exotic feel to any garden. Native to the tropics, they will grow further south in a warm, frost-free microclimate such as a walled garden. Bananas grow from suckers, but don’t go digging up a plant from a friend’s garden; you could be fined. Households are limited to the number and type of plants they may grow, and must buy from a registered supplier.

Climate: Tropics, subtropics and temperate.
Height: 2-8 metres.
Harvest: 2 years.
Growing: Full sun, rich, well-drained soil, wind protection and adequate water in spring and summer.
Pollination: Self fertile.
Note: A permit is needed to move or plant bananas.


Okay you can buy these in the shops but, once you’ve tasted an unwaxed, tree-ripened apple – even a modern variety such as Pink Lady – you’ll curse supermarket fruit for ever. If you can find a heritage variety (there are hundreds), even better; pies made with a true cooking apple like Bramleys are heaven. Long-lived and easy to grow, there is an apple to suit most tastes and places.

Climate: Cool, temperate and Mediterranean.
Height: 8 metres (1.5 m dwarf).
Harvest: 2-3 years.
Growing: Good drainage.
Pollination: Needed; Jonathan variety pollinates most others.
Note: Learn to prune!

KaffIr lime

Fans of south-east Asian cooking will need no introduction to the unusual, bi-lobed, glossy green leaves of the Kaffir lime, which adds a distinctive flavour to food. Growing your own will save you money and may even provide a second income or bartering chip. If curries and rice dishes aren’t you thing, consider a Lemon Myrtle or the more rare Aniseed Myrtle, the leaves of which can be used in teas and baked goods.

Climate: Subtropics and tropics.
Height: 6 metres – less for dwarf varieties.
Harvest: 1 year.
Growing: Full sun. Protect from frost.
Pollination: Self fertile.
Note: Excellent pot plant.


Plums are possibly the easiest stonefruit to grow but, for a taste sensation that is simply out of this world, a home-grown peach is unbeatable. Choose from white or yellow, clingstone or freestone, early or late fruiting. Stone fruit are not for the lazy gardener – needing pruning, feeding, watering and weeding – but the rewards are great.

Climate: Cool, temperate, Mediterranean.
Height: 4 metres (2.5 m dwarf).
Harvest: 2+ years.
Growing: Sunny spot out of strong wind.
Pollination: Self fertile.
Note: Suitable for pots.

Lilly Pilly

Known for their late spring flowers and glossy, evergreen leaves, Lilli Pillies (or Bush Cherries) were prized by both Aborigines and early settlers; the latter made delicious jam with the brightly coloured fruit. Popular today for hedging, the fruit is often left to rot. While more than 60 edible varieties are known, the traditional one is Riberry (Syzigium Leuhmannii), although its fruit is less sweet than Magenta Lilly Pilly (S. paniculatum).

Climate: Hardy in most areas.
Height: 5-25 metres (dwarf available).
Harvest: 3-4 years.
Growing: Prefers rich, moist soil but tolerates sandy loam. Protect from frost when young.
Pollination: Self fertile.
Note: Susceptible to Myrtle Rust disease.

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