Still glowing from the (albeit moderate) success of my tender fruits last year I decided to try something more ambitious this year. Having spent a number of years living overseas I felt confident about my selection of my latest experiment which I am hoping will have dual purpose.
Passiflora edulis is the edible passion fruit, as opposed to some of the ornamental varieties which have showier flowers but not necessarily an edible fruit. I sowed the seeds last year-which took a surprisingly long time to germinate, but when they did, it was in significant numbers. Almost 100% germination rate and the plants went on to grow exceedingly fast and vigorously. Anyone who has spent time with us at Trout Cottage will know that, despite facing North, the conservatory at the back of the house can reach some staggering temperatures in Summer. And passion fruit just love this!
I didn’t have any expectations of the plants this year as all the literature suggested that it would take a third season to actually produce any fruit but earlier this year I was delighted to see the production of not one, but several flowers which have already gone on to produce fruits. The plant is being fed daily in its watering regime with vermi-liquor(worm wee!) in an almost hydroponic situation.
Pruning has been crucial in its ability to produce flowers. I removed the growing tip of the vine about 2 months ago encouraging the laterals to sprout. It is these laterals which are now producing the flowers. It’s a similar system of pruning to viticulture if you are already familiar with that.
Having seen this plant in its native setting I am hoping it will thrive in the high temperatures and provide some shade for guests while providing us with some interesting fruit for the table.
Further experiments-which are not faring so successfully yet-include peppers and aubergines. They are planted outside behind wind breaks, heavily mulched with grass clippings to maintain moisture and reflect heat to the plant. Early days yet but the better temperatures are still to come so everything to play for at the moment.