Néflier du Japon
Getting ideas for what to grow in my vegetable garden isn’t something that I have trouble with anymore. I get my inspiration from recipes that I find and ingredients that I can’t find in the grocery stores. Next to that, I get my inspiration from farmers markets that sell veggies in marvellous colours and shapes. These influences make my vegetable garden grow bigger and more diverse, year after year.
Growing fruit is another thing though. I generally say that growing fruit isn’t my job in the garden. I always push that task towards Eduard. Eduard takes care of the berry bushes, I grow the vegetables. That division of work stems from the idea that Eduard loved eating berries more than I did in the beginning. Next to that Eduard is really the confiture eater in our house. And confiture is made from berries. I can’t really be bothered with a slice of bread accompanied by a jam.
But my taste is changing, I’m slowly learning to love a spoon of confiture in my breakfast yoghurt and I’m discovering fruits that we can grow in our garden and climate that don’t fall in the category ‘berries’. Partly due to the fruit trees that already grew in the amazing garden of this place where we have lived these last three years and partly by walking around and by peeking into other people’s gardens.Well and when I discover a thing I like, it often becomes a thing I want to do often or a collection I need to grow. You can describe it as a character flaw, but I have learned to accept it and live in peace with myself. Hahaha.
So as a result of this I now have an ever growing fruit tree collection on our terrace. I have bought a few trees the last year, but mostly I have grown trees from cuttings in our garden. That way I have been able to grow a (still very tiny) fig tree, but also plum trees, apple trees and so on.
I have also discovered growing fruit from the original piece of fruit and this post is about one of those trees that I’m growing now from seeds that I acquired from the original fruit that I bought at a Turkish grocery store in town. It’s a Japanese loquat (which is actually Chinese apparently). I had never heard of the fruit until Eduard bumped into it somewhere during spring in a Turkish supermarket. He bought a few pieces and at home, we tasted the fruit (it was creamy and fresh) and then we tried to find out what kind of fruit it was. At that time we didn’t immediately think of growing the fruit ourselves although we liked the taste, because grocery stores are often filled with tropical fruits that don’t do well in our climates.
Not long after our find, we went to Marseille for a lovely weekend away and while walking around in one of the city quarters we bumped into a Japanese loquat tree that grew on a doorstep. It was a very ornamental looking tree with beautiful big dark coloured textured leaves. A month earlier I wouldn’t have recognised this tree, because I didn’t know the whole existence of the type of fruit and had no idea of the way it grew obviously. It has been very satisfying and enjoyable experience to see how our knowledge of plants has grown slowly over the years, in a way that we can recognise an increasing amount of plants ‘in the wild’ now. I really believe it improves the experience walking around in public areas or outdoors.
This encounter also made me realise that we could grow our loquats in our climate. We would probably have to take the plant indoors during winter as it’s a bit colder here than in Marseille, but that wouldn’t be a problem. When we came back I quickly bought some more loquats and saved and planted the seeds (May). Last week (October) I realised that the seeds had finally sprouted and that I now have four tiny Japanese loquat tree seedlings. This means that I can share the beginning of a growing guide for a Japanese loquat tree for you if you want to try it out as well.
They are pretty easy to grow I must say. Much easier than an avocado tree for example. You just have to save the seeds from the fruit. Every fruit has a handful of seeds. It unfortunately has more seeds than flesh. The seeds look a bit like big green peanuts. I don’t think you can eat them though. After taking the seeds out, you can fill a pot with a mix of sand and compost and place the seeds on top. Cover the seeds with the same mixture and place them on a sunny spot in your garden of indoors. Keep the mixture moist, but not too wet. Five months later you will find the beginnings of a loquat tree.
I will now leave them in the same pot for a few more months. I did take the pot indoors now, while I started it outdoors. Next year in spring they will probably be big enough to place in bigger pots and I will move the pots outdoors for the summer period. I will then add some more compost and watch them grow big. It will probably take a few years before they give us fruit. It gives fruit in early spring apparently, which is a good period I think. Many fruit trees crop later in the year.
It’s good to keep in mind that the loquat tree can be self fertilising, but as I’m not sure about this variety, I will probably keep at least two trees next to each other to make sure they will fruit. You can expect more tree updates for these on the blog, come back in spring to see how they are growing and let me know if you try growing loquats yourself!