The tamarillo is a very versatile tree, which grows easily in our sub tropical climate. It is native to South America. The tamarillo has a lovely semi-sweet flavoured fruit, which is similar in flavour to tomato, hence the name “Tree Tomato”.
It is a fast growing tree which grows apparently up to about 5 metres high. Our tamarillos have not grown bigger than around 1800mm and then umbrellas out. This means it creates a nice shade canopy, which is useful for growing seedlings or green leafy vegetables that cannot cope with full hot sun at the foot of the tree. The roots of the tamarillo are shallow, so they don’t invade our kitchen garden soil too much and seem to be fine to grow in our kitchen garden without disturbing any other plants. This does mean however that they need watering regularly, but they do not like being waterlogged! Well drained soil is appreciated by the tamarillo.
Our watering hose is also coiled under a tamarillo so the hose will last longer because it is not exposed to full sun due to the tree’s canopy. It can be a wonderful shade tree for a frog pond, and we have used the tamarillo as a trellis to grow gourds on as well, which the tree seemed to cope well with as it still produced fruit.
The inside of the fruit can be scooped out and eaten raw, and the whole fruit can be cooked and made into a sauces, compotes or chutneys. I sometimes use them to bulk up tomatoes in a tomato sauce.
It is a wonderful little tree, fast growing and versatile. It can perform a number of functions in any kitchen garden as well as bearing fruit.
©2012 Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast – More use than one for Tamarillo in the permaculture way.