Sunday, July 14, 2013

Landscraping and Green Passion Fruit

This is what my back yard looks like. Up against a hill on one side, and sloping down gradually until you hit the gulch on the other side. Everything slopes, everything falls.

Gravity and entropy are king and queen.

A while ago, a large branch cracked on the avocado tree, and hung limply for months. We finally got to it last week. Lots of tree trimming with the requisite ladder positioning and sliding on red dirt, cussing and yelling, while positioning the ladder again. It's a task for dirty pre-stained clothes, not the white of Memorial Day summer time.

There was also a large passionfruit vine growing on the avocado tree, which was full of unripe passion fruit, or lilikoi, as we like to call them here. There are some huge elephant ear plants in the foreground. They have heart shaped leaves, but are NOT edible taro. I made the mistake of eating them once, so I know. There's a rosemary bush that has survived for at least a decade, despite the cool and damp, it does fairly well and ekes out enough light. 

The 5th wheelbarrow full of lilikoi vines and their curled tendrils. Moving them away from the scene of massive landscraping and plant maneuvering. I call all this landscraping as opposed to landscaping, because it feels more like carting around plant material and scraping things rather than any thoughtful gardening endeavor.

The other side of the narrow yard, facing the gulch. There is a 300 foot drop past the vegetation. The gulch is a place I have slid my butt down many a time, fetching something that dropped from the house or the deck. I'm in a slow process of terraforming and landscraping the gulch so that I don't need climbing gear to get down.

It's a makeshift, full on hippie process, since it's mostly piling on horizontal logs and trunks and hammering wood stakes into the ground to make stick work terraces and layers. I like to think of it as "permaculture" without a plan. When I have free time, I shimmy into the gulch and rearrange branches.

Yes, I know that entropy and gravity will eventually eat up my work, but the impromptu terracing seems to help new plants cling to the steep slope of the gulch, and I am seeing several avocado and castor bean seedlings where there was only bare dirt.  These are all branches and stakes for my crazy terraforming the gulch project. I think sometimes if Laura Ingalls Wilder of Little House on the Prairie was crossed w/ Tarzan's Jane, she might be doing crazy landscraping projects like this.

I have two rather large baskets of unripe, green passion fruit, from the vines that were clinging to the avocado tree. Not a happy sight for me. I'm not sure it was even worth separating them from the vines.

They may ripen and turn yellow, but they won't get sweet. That's been my experience. I will try a couple of the ones that turned yellow to see if they are palatable. I did have a fantasy of making lilikoi vinegar or wine, but not sure if these fruits will be worthwhile. Plus if they stay green, they are bitter tasting. I also found out the unripe fruits are high in cyanide!  Don't worry, I won't be making any cyanide wine or vinegar.

Here's a post on ripe lilikoi from last year.  We eventually lost our yard to the lilikoi vine, which then engulfed the telephone wires, so we had to trim them back a lot.


  1. Lucky you to have your own avocados growing - it looks like a beautiful property. One time I planted some elephant ear bulbs and they are beautiful plants but in the northeast, we have to dig them up every year and replant. I have never tried passion fruit before, but they look interesting too!

  2. Planting elephant ears! They are a weed here!


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