Getting fruity

Labour Weekend is the traditional time to get tomatoes in, at least in warmer areas of New Zealand. In her Sunday newspaper column this week Lynda Hallinan mentioned Bristol Seeds of Wanganui, stockists of a wide range of heritage tomato seed. So I thought I’d share the link with you. Owners Frank and Joy Bristol have been working with Mark Christensen, the man who discovered Monty’s Surprise apple, on a project to analyse the health benefits of various heritage tomatoes.

Mark is director of the Heritage Food Crops Research Trust which has also been looking at beans and plums and peaches. Hear an April 2015 interview with Mark on National Radio.

Some of the Vege Grower’s 2014/15 crop. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Ecoseeds is another New Zealand company with a list of heritage vegetables, including tomatoes (to see the list, click on the down arrow to the right under ‘Product’). See also the Country Trading Company, King’s Seeds heirloom tomatoes and the list at Koanga Institute (including coloured corn).

Growing from seed isn’t difficult – it just takes some planning to get things in at the right time so they crop when you want them. You can always go to a garden centre and buy a potted plant that is partially grown, but if price is a factor, seeds are definitely a great way to grow food and flowers. And remember to chat to your neighbours. There’s many an excellent seed swap to be made over the fence.

We moved our small Blush Babe apple tree to the back lawn this past winter and are now excited to see more blossom than it’s ever had so hope our busy worker bees are converting flowers to fruit. I mentioned a juicy and delicious apple my dear old great-uncle used to have (both long gone, alas) to a friend last week and in researching the name for her found the terrific website of Mana Whenua Apples. Stayman’s Winesap is the apple Uncle Percy had – a late apple, according to the Mana Whenua list, and a tree that originated from the US in 1866.

Rangpur lime. Photo: Sandra Simpson

My friend showed me an interesting fruit tree in her garden, labelled as ‘Rangpur Lime’ but which has orange skin and orange flesh. A little research reveals that it’s not a lime at all but a cross between a lemon and a mandarin, although because it’s so acidic can be used like a lime. The leaves are scented like kaffir lime leaves and can be used in cooking. The fruit seems to have come from the Indian subcontinent but is also known in China and Japan. Here’s some growing information (remember to alter the months for the southern hemisphere), while this website includes some recipes. It should be noted that the Rangpur lime also grows quite long thorns!

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