Cultivation of Exotic Fruit
Passiflora and Lemonade Berry seeds should be soaked
for 24 hours in tepid water before sowing.
Pomegranate seeds require cold
stratification before sowing: soak them in tepid water for 48 hours, and
then sow the seeds into compost as above but place in the fridge for
about a month. Following their 'fake winter' keep the seeds at 20°C
Sow the seeds on top of a good quality seed or general purpose
compost. Cover the seeds very lightly with fine compost or vermiculite.
They can be sown in reasonably deep seed trays, straight into individual
3 inch pots (2 or 3 per pot - remove the weaker seedlings) or into
rootrainers. Keep the compost just moist - don't let the top of the
compost dry out too much, as this is a common cause of germination
failure. Cut down on watering by covering the pot or tray with plastic
film. If you have a heated propagator, use a temperature of 25C. You
will need a minimum temperature of 22C for successful germination. They
will germinate well in a warm room. Don't leave the seeds in direct
sunlight as the heat generated may kill them. If you like you could also
spray the surface with a dilute copper-based fungicide.
Feeding and Watering
Once they have sprouted, water the seedlings regularly, but don't let
them become waterlogged as this encourages rot. Don't let seedlings dry
out as they rarely recover at this stage. Larger plants should be
watered regularly - allow the top cm of compost to dry out in between
Naranjilla are susceptible to
root rot and should never be stood in water or allowed to become
Exotic fruit can be fed when
bearing fruit. Use a high potash fertiliser such as a weak solution of
organic tomato feed. Feed them no more than once per fortnight. You
could add some Seaweed extract (without added fertiliser) to the water
once a week. This toughens them up a little and improves disease
Passiflora and Lemonade Berry are vigorous vines and
should be fed sparingly to avoid plants becoming too rampant!
Potting On Your Fruit Seedlings
When the seedlings have produced their first pair of proper leaves
they can be potted on into individual 3 or 4-inch pots if grown in a
seed tray. Use good quality potting compost and mix in some organic slow
release fertiliser, according to the manufacturer's instructions. I use
2 parts peat free compost, 1 part coir (a peat substitute), plus a
little additional organic fertiliser. To ensure good drainage you could
also add perlite (good drainage is essential for
Pot the plants on again before they becomes root-bound (you'll see
roots appearing through the holes in the bottom of the small pots).
Stake if necessary, tying in stems with soft twine. Seedlings should be
grown in good light.
Pepinos, Huckleberries and Cape Gooseberries should be planted a cm
or two deeper each time they are potted on as they will produce new
surface feeding roots.
Planting Out - Soil Preparation and Position
If planting outside or directly in greenhouse border prepare the soil
in advance by digging in plenty of organic matter a month before
planting. The idea is to increase the moisture retention of the soil.
Make sure that plants have been allowed to acclimatise to outdoor
conditions for 2-3 weeks before they are moved permanently outside.
During this time gradually increase the amount of wind, sunshine and
cooler temperatures that the plant experiences. Don't plant out until
after all risk of frost has passed.
Lemonade Berries should be grown for at least 2 years in pots before
planting out in full sun and acclimatising
Pepinos, Passiflora, Pomegranates, Huckleberries and Cape
Gooseberries prefer a spot in full sun and plenty of moisture (but hate
Naranjillas need light shade so don't place them where they will be
in full sunlight.
Pepino and Passiflora leaves will be cut down by frost and any
remaining fruit will be spoiled, but the rootstock may resprout in
Spring if provided with a 6 inch layer of mulch. Otherwise bring them
indoors into a well lit position or into a frost free greenhouse for the
Naranjillas and Pomegranates will tolerate brief light frosts but
cannot realistically be over-wintered outside. Keep them in a frost-free
greenhouse or in a bright room to be safe. Naranjillas make attractive
houseplants and tolerate the lower indoor light levels well. Ideally
they should be kept between 10C and 30C.
Huckleberries and Cape Gooseberries are best grown as annuals.
Naranjillas are bright orange when ripe. Rub the hairs of Naranjilla
before consuming - Naranjillas can be eaten by cutting in half and
squeezing the pulp out, they are often made in drinks and jellies.
Pepinos are ripe when the skin is full coloured (slightly creamy
rather than white) and gives slightly when squeezed. It should smell
sweet at the stalk end. They will finish ripening on a windowsill if
harvested a little early. They can be served raw in fruit salads, with
or without a light sprinkle of brown sugar.
Cape Gooseberries tend to fall off the plant when ripe and the outer
husk will have turned brown. The husk is not edible
Chichiquilite Huckleberries should be picked after they have turned
deep black and are soft-ish. They may also develop a 'bloom' rather than
be shiny (although rainfall may affect this.).