by Leonie Shanahan
Further to my last article, where I strongly encourage people to take control of their food security and get growing now, I have compiled an extensive list of edibles, including new varieties to many of you possibly.
The most important thing is to just grow as much food as possible. Every inch of soil is an opportunity to increase your food supply.
This list includes my favourite fruiting plants, mostly trees, to grow. Some of them will take years to fruit, so bear that in mind. If you are thinking you don’t have space for fruit trees, smaller varieties are achieved by growing trees grown on dwarf grafts, pruning to keep smaller, espaliered or grow in large pots.
Having such a wet summer it is a good time to get trees planted as the rain will settle them in. Check growing conditions and growth habits of trees before ordering and make sure you have an appropriate space.
Trees don’t like ‘wet feet’ so make sure there is good drainage. Before and after planting, give trees a good water of seaweed and mulch – add 6cm of wood chips or hay mulch around the tree but not to the trunk.
Trees like Acerola cherry, Grumichama and Jaboticaba have the bonus of fruiting several times a year or have a long fruit season that provides a continuous source of fruit. Many of the fruit trees have several varieties; you need to do some research into the best match for your taste buds.
Common fruit trees: avocado, banana, blueberry, citrus – cumquats, lemons, lime, mandarin, grapefruit, oranges, lemonade, and Kaffir lime (leaves), fig, mango, mulberry – black, red and white varieties, passionfruit vine, paw paw, and raspberry (good to grow in a pot to contain).
There are lesser known fruit trees for our climate, many of which have fascinating fruit habits, like growing fruit on the trunk of the tree. Some of these trees have several common names – for those plants I have included their botanical name to avoid confusion,and all are hardy trees.
The Acerola cherry sny Barbados cherry Malpighia emarginate is very high in Vitamin C, Brazilian cherry Eugenia uniflora, Cedar bay cherry Eugenia reinwardtiana, Dragon fruit (climber), Grumichama Eugenia brasiliensis, Jackfruit – high in protein, Panama berry tree Muntingia calabura kids love this sweet caramel tasting fruit, and the Monstera deliciosa plant (referred as fruit salad plant), are just a few.
There is also so much to learn about native and bush food plants that are edible, medicinal, and cookable such as finger limes, Macadamia nut tree, Midyim berry (low growing), Myrtle trees – lemon, cinnamon, or aniseed, use the leaves, Native raspberry and rosella, Peanut tree Sterculia quadrifida (eat the seeds), and Wax Jambu – Rose apple Syzygium javanicum, my absolute favourite, often people grow these and don’t realise they are edible – so delicious and crunchy.
Remember to share your excess with neighbours, friends, community, and those in need. Also preserve, bottle, sauce, dehydrate and barter.
Leonie Shanahan.com.au, author of Eat Your Garden- Organic Gardening for home and schools