Incredibly sweet fruit, on just natural rainfall.
The passionfruit is in abundance this year. Absolutely the best crop we've ever had! Do you want to know my secret? Wait for it...good old-fashioned neglect.
Mandarin leaves (foreground) ripening passionfruit (background)
We normally trim this passionfruit vine back in summer, to allow access to the front of Hilltop chicken coop. With pregnancies and babies getting in the way however, the vine just ran amok this season. It even managed to tickle its way up the mandarin tree nearby. We thought about cutting it back, but we just never got around to it. What a wonderful experiment it turned out to be.
Victims of 44 degree (C) summer temperatures
The mandarin tree dropped its fruit in the summer extremes, but out of all our citrus trees, this one has managed to put on another flush of fruit which will be ripe for winter. I credit the passionfruit vine, which kept this entire area around the chicken coop (including the mandarin tree) free from the vaporizing sun and the enemy of evaporation. It wasn't enough to save the first fruits, but allowed a second flush in autumn to come on.
We just have to make sure the vine doesn't strangle the whole tree, or we'll have sooty mould and all sorts of problems. Nature has demonstrated however that our low rainfall needn't be a hindrance to producing fruit. We just have to experiment a little more, based on our observations and the feedback we're getting from the environment.
This successful harvest after some pretty shoddy weather conditions, has given me a few ideas in other areas too. We're determined to keep trying to grow stuff with the climate and resources available.