Monday, October 14, 2013

Self Watering Trees and a Grand Passion (fruit)

Sometimes when you live in an extreme climate you need to take extreme measures to get the best outcomes and last week we did  some extreme tree planting! Not many people can do this because you need a drilling rig....which we are fortunate enough to have.....and, of course, someone to operate it. In this case, my son Tom.

On the 10th of September I planted some pre-sprouted carob seeds (using the same method that you use for sprouting alfalfa and the like i.e.  seeds in a jar, porous cloth over the top held with a lackey band, rinse with fresh water twice a day for about 6 or 7 days)  into tubes made from cardboard boxes....until I ran out of boxes and then I used cylinders made of card. The reason for planting into cardboard tubes is that carob trees have a very long tap root and apparently  they don't like it to be disturbed in the planting out process. This tap root is one of the main reasons I chose to plant carob trees as a wind break around the orchard. It makes carobs an ideal 'outside the yard' tree because once their tap root reaches the water table they wont need to be watered externally at all. And that is where the drilling rig comes in.

For each tree we drilled a six metre hole, right down to the water table. I then backfilled the hole, alternately adding some slow release fertiliser and chook poo as I went, to give the trees a bit of a boost as they grow. Just before reaching the top of the hole I added some compost, into which I nestled the cardboard tube. The tap root of each plant was already at the bottom of the tube, so in a month they grew about 25-30cm!

I covered each little tree with netting to keep out the rabbits and popped a bit of dried bush on top of that to provide a bit of shade. When the trees grow a bit I will have to make a circle of netting to go around them as they will be very tempting young morsels for rabbits, roos and goats.

Carobs are a very long living tree and  have lovely dark green, glossy leaves and a dense canopy. The females produce big pods of seeds, the pods being what the chocolate like sweet is made from. Animals absolutely adore carob pods and they are a highly nutritious food.

Of course you don't need a drilling rig to plant carobs! They would be quite happy planted in a conventional tree hole and in some places they would quite happily find their own way to the water table. However, here there is a layer of rock, known locally as 'Murchison Cement,' and that can make life difficult for deep rooted trees to reach it. The alternative is to just water them regularly.

I can't quite believe it but my Panama Red passionfruit vine is flowering and fruiting again. I was surprised when it started flowering in autumn, having only planted it the previous spring and now, it hasn't even dropped all the ripe fruit and it is going again! Is this normal? Anyway, I am so impressed with it I have planted another one.

We have a new favourite dessert using passionfruit. I have adapted an old favourite lemon delicious recipe, called 'Tasmanian Lemon Pudding' for some reason, to passionfruit. It is equally yummy served hot or cold with custard, cream or icecream - or all three!

Passionfruit Delicious Pudding

150g castor sugar
60g softened butter
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons plain flour
Top the passionfruit pulp up with milk
to make up one cup of liquid
rind of 1 lemon
5 large passionfruit, pulped
Enough milk to make up 1 cup of total liquid when combined with the passionfruit pulp

Butter well a 1 litre pie dish. Preheat oven to 160 deg celcius
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and beat well. Stir in lemon rind, flour and combined passionfruit pulp and milk.
Whip the egg white until stiff. Fold egg whites into passionfruit mixture.
Pour mixture into  pie dish and place into a larger dish. Pour hot water in to the bigger dish to half way up the side of the  pie dish, creating a bain maire.
Bake until slightly browned and set- about one hour.

Passionfruit Delicious- Intensely passion-fruity,
a lovely spongy 'cake'  with sauce underneath.


  1. Amazing effort on the trees! I'm impressed. How long will it take the carob plants to be trees do you think?
    I made an adapted lemon pudding recently also -I used fresh mango flesh instead, then topped it with fresh passionfruit once cooked, and served it with home made toasted coconut and lime ice cream -us FT's really know how to keep things light and simple don't we! x

  2. Thanks for commenting Verity. I think it will be 5 or 6 years before the trees produce pods and start to look like small trees but you never know, once they get their feet in that water they might just take off! The thing with trees..... you usually plant them for the next generation.
    Your mango pudding/icecream combo sounds like a perfect summer pud. I have some mango flesh in the freezer so might have to give it a go. Actually about to make some ice cream now, to go with caramel mud cake :) Am thinking vanilla might be best for that! x

  3. Loved the description of the industrial tree planting Emma! Do you think you might bring the rig south? And the driller? I'm so over digging...

    1. Might be a bit hard to get in the back yard!