Food Forests: Jackfruit seedlings

Jackfruit Seedlings

The first rains have arrived and I am delighted. I am pleased too that the small urban food forest I am creating is proceeding at a steady pace. My jackfruit seedlings are ready for planting out. Yet not here. After the concrete was removed a water pipe lying just below its surface was placed deeper into the earth; left where it was would have been unsightly as well as impractical for my purpose. The walls have been sealed and shaped at the bottom to facilitate run-off into what will be the water garden.

The carefully transplanted Jackfruit seedlings gave me a sense of accomplishment. Such joy I experienced holding each individual plant while admiring their long taproots. These are not fruit trees that can stay in containers of any kind; they require a large space far from all essential infrastructure for I have read that the taproot can reach 60m below the ground. In search of water it goes…

It gave me great pleasure potting them into unglazed terracotta pots and placing these in the opened-up surface. I was hoping to dig them in deeper yet the soil is full of pebbles and bits of concrete; I decided to just enjoy the sight of the jackfruit until I have to move them to complete this project.

Jackfruit seedlings for sale

Theoretically Jackfruit trees should be ideal for where I live. If I had a large enough garden I would certainly grow one. Since I don’t, I imagined that I could keep one in a deep pot. I can’t, for I sense that the taproot will split the base of the pot and, not finding anywhere friendly to grow into, will simply not survive. Thankfully, I have made peace with not keeping one for myself.

Jackfruit seedling taproot

Jackfruit seedling taproot

Jackfruit trees are a wonderfully tasty source of vegan protein. It would have been an excellent exotic addition to the free food forests I imagined we could add to some of our parks and verges. Yet given the mood in Jo’burg and the destruction of trees planted at Norwood Park and in other public places, I continue to place this dream on hold.

Nonetheless, these seedlings have grown and are in need of a permanent home. (The clay pots are chipped and serve as substitutes for transporting them in plastic. I would be happy to have them back for future seedling transplants.) If you can provide a home for one of these eight seedlings please contact me (archaela@blueblueearth.co.za). I have no idea how to price them so a donation would be appreciated.

Jackfruit Tree

Jackfruit Tree

Jackfruit Facts
  • Jackfruit trees are evergreen trees which can attain a height of 3m and a canopy of 2m in two years.
  • They are monoecious (produces both male and female flowers so one tree is sufficient for fruit production)
  • The fruit can be cooked when ‘green’ and has the texture of meat; a great way to wean oneself off meat if that is what one wishes to do
  • When ripe, it is eaten raw and is said to have the flavor of a combination of two tropical fruits
  • Provides shade
  • Controls soil erosion and floods
  • Jackfruit wood is resistant to termite infestation, fungal attack and bacterial decay. (PSHB resistant? I don’t know; time will tell.)
  • The wood may be used for making furniture and musical instruments!
  • Not ideal along streets – I imagine those huge fruits (the largest in the world) falling on cars, so no, jackfruit trees are not recommended for narrow pavements.
Permaculture at Victoria Yard
Hard landscaping at Victoria Yard

Hard landscaping at Victoria Yard

Decidious fruit tree in bloom

Decidious fruit tree in bloom

Mixed vegetable bed at Victoria Yard

Mixed vegetable bed at Victoria Yard

For ideas on permaculture sites I visited Victoria Yard. Developed by the designers of 44 Stanley, Victoria Yard is so much more exciting from a permaculture perspective. I enjoyed walking through the site and seeing how they have chosen to harvest and channel their water. The sturdy metal structures they have created for climbing plants and the various vertical gardening ideas I found useful. An idea I wish to adapt to my own site is one that hopefully will allow me to protect my food forest from the neighbourhood cats!