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Gardening with Jill

Hi, I hope you are all doing ok and enjoying your garden. So, let’s sit down for a minute and relax and have a coffee break.


How about some home-grown coffee – using your own coffee beans!

East Africa is where Coffea arabica comes from. The coffee shrub grows to approximately 3 metres high and has beautiful dense, dark green, shiny foliage with fragrant white flowers. They should be grown in a frost-free situation and be protected from cold winds. The most suitable position is lightly shaded with at least half a day’s sunlight.

They need plenty of water during Spring to Autumn. With a sufficient amount of water, they will grow in a variety of soil types. A slightly acid soil with lots of compost is desirable. Plant the shrubs at least 2 metres apart. During their growing season an application of a complete fertilizer will help with growth and fruit yields. Plants will produce a few beans after 2 to 3 years, but after 6 to 7 years, they will average about 700 grams of cured coffee. A happy plant will double that amount.

Plants are cut back by one-third when they reach the height of 1 metre, to encourage low bushy growth.


The cherry-sized berries are ready to be picked when they become a reddish purple colour. Process either of the following ways.

1. Fresh berries are removed by hand and placed in a bucket of water. Rub and stir until the beans become papery and then wash most of the loose pulp away. Spread the cleaned beans in the sun to dry and then rub any remaining pulp from the seeds. Roast in an oven at 200C-plus. Until the green beans are roasted, coffee does not have the characteristic aroma or flavour we are familiar with.

2. Leave the berries intact and dry them in the sun, this produces a full-flavoured or rich-bodied coffee quite different in character to the washed coffee recipe. Again, beans are roasted in a hot oven at 200C-plus, until they are easily broken. You can test by breaking in your hand or by biting.

Roasting time can vary from five to twenty minutes depending on the quantity of beans roasted. Roast to taste. After roasting, beans should be air-cooled as quickly as possible, using a fan.

It is important to package your coffee in an air-tight container immediately after production. Roasted beans will become stale at room temperature within 10 days and ground coffee within just a few days.

Many hand and electric grinders are now available, so that fresh coffee can be percolated or filtered whenever desired. It takes approximately 500-600 grams of fresh berries to make 100 grams of clean dried beans.


Do you want exotic and decorative? Then an Avocado tree is for you!

The Avocado tree is ready to bear fruit in 3 years and will produce at least 30 fruit. The crop increases proportionately until the tree is 8 years old, and can be capable of producing over 300 fruit. At this age the tree should have reached a height of 4.5 metres.

Main Varieties: –

HASS – Matures August to December. Fruit is pear shaped, but with shorter, thick neck. The skin is thick and rough. As fruit ripens it turns deep purple to black and the flesh is creamy yellow with a nutty flavour.

SHARWILL – Matures July to October. Fruit is pear shaped with smooth soft green skin. The flesh is creamy yellow with a very rich flavour and smooth buttery texture.


Plant the trees on a raised mound in the garden and keep it well mulched. This will stop the most common problem “Root Rot” as the plant hates wet feet. Anti-Rot will help you solve this problem. Dig your hole, loosening the soil around the bottom and sides of the hole, mix in some Blood and Bone, teasing out the root system so that it mixes with the soil that is being packed around it.

If the garden soil has poor drainage, you can create an artificial mound. Build a rock wall in a circle 1.5 – 2 metres in diameter and 15-25 cms high. Fill with sandy soil and compost. Plant the tree in the centre of the mound.

Now water well, remembering to keep the mulch away from the stem. Keep the soil moist but not saturated. Protect the trees from a windy position. Continue to keep mulch the tree out from the drip line. This helps keep nutrition in the soil, conserves moisture, stops weeds and helps the biological control of soil diseases.

The fruit will not ripen until picked, so it can be left on the tree from 3-4months after reaching maturity. To test if the fruit is mature, pick one as a sample and keep in a warm place. If it ripens within 10 days the rest of the fruit can be picked, as desired. The trees will set lots of small fruit, but it cannot hold all these fruit, so a lot will drop off. This shedding will continue until the fruit reaches maturity.

Please come and sit at the table and discover the pleasure of an unhurried dish - Avocado on toast.

Happy Gardening.



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