Edible hedges

Edible hedges

Article originally published by: Kiwi Gardener

Have you ever wanted a hedge or garden divider to deliver more than just shelter, privacy and protection? Plenty of fruiting and edible plants have habits and growth characteristics that make them ideal options for those wanting to maximise harvesting potential whilst not compromising on the benefits that hedges provide.

Have you ever wanted a hedge or garden divider to deliver more than just shelter, privacy and protection? Plenty of fruiting and edible plants have habits and growth characteristics that make them ideal options for those wanting to maximise harvesting potential whilst not compromising on the benefits that hedges provide. But before you start digging a trench or building a planter for your edible hedge, screen or edge, consider how much sun your plants will get, your soil type and wind exposure. Some fruits produce flowers and fruit on old season’s wood which can easily be cut off when pruning to shape. To prevent the removal of stems which will carry fruit, be aware of how and when your plants flower and fruit before going crazy with the hedge trimmer or pruning saw. Some fruiting plants, such as blueberries, feijoa, guava, citrus and dwarf pomegranate, have shallow root systems which make them good options for planters and tubs. Others, such as the olive, need a porous soil with more root room. These taller, edible hedge options need a soil depth of at least 1m to anchor them securely in the ground and prevent them from falling over.
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Blueberry hedege

Blueberry

These superfoods make a mighty mid-sized hedge. Select varieties with bushy habits, note that they fruit on old season’s wood, and be careful when pruning. Blueberries prefer an acidic soil and do not need a lot of fertiliser to thrive. Moisture through the warm months is essential, and nets may be required if the birds decide they deserve the berries more than you do. Blueberries are ideal for tubs and raised beds.

New Zealand cranberry (Chilean guava)

These mighty wee powerhouses pump out the fruit no matter the climate. They seem to continue producing even when given the harshest of haircuts, which makes them almost foolproof for the over-enthusiastic pruners among us. Often referred to as a cranberry due to its colour and shape, this small shrub (Myrtus ugni) is also known as ‘Chilean guava’. It is a good option for areas which do not get all-day sun, perfect for tubs and planters and ideal for training into shapes or onto frames. even better, it’s easily propagated by cuttings so, for those who have time on their hands, take semi -hardwood cuttings in summer.

Feijoa

From small to tall varieties, feijoa hedges are one of the best fruiting options for a hedge of your chosen height. To stimulate fruit production and ripening, feijoa require plenty of light and air movement around the bottom of the plant and in the centre of the branches. This means they are not the ideal choice for those wanting a dense foliage screen. Whilst the new dwarf hybrids are packed full of flavour, they do seem a little less tolerant of the harshest frosts. avoid planting feijoa in mid-winter when soil temperatures are below zero. Feijoa is an ideal option for tubs and planters, or for trimming into topiaries or standards.

Guava

Red and yellow Cattley guava are perfect options for those wanting an ornamental and evergreen hedge. These medium-sized shrubs are suited to regions where frosts are not significant. With a non-invasive root system, they are a good option for a boundary planting. The Cattley guava also has pretty flowers, and birds enjoy its fruit and nest in its branches. The fruit is also excellent raw, and exceptionally good for use in jellies and jams.

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Guava hedge

Citrus

Lemons, limes and other citrus are often overlooked as hedging and screening plants, which is a pity as they have so much to offer. They are evergreen, have wonderfully fragrant flowers (which few other fruits do) and supply the grower with an edible harvest. espalier-style is an easy way to enjoy lemons and other citrus without them having to occupy or dominate large parts of the courtyard or garden. espaliers are also an excellent way to divide up living spaces and patios. Citrus are happy in tubs and planters as long as they have plenty of root room and a fertile, free-draining soil. Supply them with specific citrus fertiliser in spring and autumn.

Olives

When height, speed of growth and wind tolerance are all called for, olives are a go-to option. They have a tall, elegant habit and, as far as nutrients go, run on the smell of an oily rag. What they do need, however, at least while getting established, is root room and security. In exposed sites, either protect stems with stakes until the root system builds up its strength, or put up windbreaks. Olives provide an ethereal presence and are a great option on boundaries, driveways and along walls. Once established, they will cope with long, dry periods.

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Olives

Currants and Gooseberries

Mix and match these deciduous berries which are both perfect as hedge plants. They are hardy to the coldest of elements, and easy to grow. In spring, flowers appear before the foliage, giving added charm. Currants are taller, more person-size if left to their own devices, whereas gooseberries are more mid-sized and have the thorny bonus of keeping unwanted people or animals at bay. Allow a good metre between plants.

Pomegranate

With delicate-looking foliage and the most gorgeous, tropical flowers, it’s hard to believe these fruits are so hardy. With a slower-growing habit than the other fruits we’ve mentioned, they are well worth considering alongside Chilean guava, feijoa, or even currants, as part of a blended, edible hedge. The dwarf hybrids are perfect for tubs and planters. Taller varieties require more room.