Sunday, February 28, 2010

Who said 'Money Doesn't Grow on Trees?'

While I was shopping in the Potts Point Woolworths the other day I noticed packets of curry leaves for sale in the Asian vegetable section. I haven't needed to buy curry leaves for more than 3 years. My balcony curry leaf tree provides an abundant supply. In fact I regularly trim off a few branches and give them to my friend Kham who runs the Arun Thai restaurant across the road.

The potted Curry Leaf Tree is thriving in its semi-shady position. I water it twice a week and fertilise it with a seaweed tea once every couple of months. Apart from the occasional caterpillar attack and mealy bug colony its seems to be fighting fit.

It produces these wonderfully glossy, fragrant, quite pungent leaves that I use to make curries, dhals and saffron rice. They are used similarly to bay leaves.

Our tree produces so many leaves I even sometimes think of it as a slight annoyance.

Not any more.

The Woolworth packets of curry leaves were selling for $2 for a folded stem of about 30 leaves!
Highway robbery!
I rushed back up to our apartment to do a rough calculation of how many stems there were on my curry leaf tree and counted about 500 stems.
At $2 a stem my curry leaf tree is worth at least $1000!!!!! And with a new stem emerging each day it's a veritable licence to print money.
And what's more because I don't use any pesticides or chemicals I bet they taste better than the woolies ones do.

I know most food gardeners grow their own food for the superior taste and flavour but it's good to be reminded of how much money we are also saving in the process - or how much money we could make.

... I can picture the shingle above my shop door now..." Indira Naidoo - Providore of Exotic Leaves."


  1. LOL I'll visit that shop;)

    OK, if I told you that I was a complete novice at growing (rosemary, bay, oregano, chives and a dwarf lemon are pretty much the extent of my foodie plants) do you think the curry plant would have a chance in a suburban Melbourne backyard under my watch Indira? Don't sugar coat it, I can take the truth;)

  2. Indira
    That's a really lovely example of a curry tree. I've had one in a pot for about 15 years and it's nicely trouble-free (although the berries it produces sprout too easily and I am sure it'll end up being classed as a weedy thing when grown near bushland areas.)
    And I think your regular pruning of branches for Arun Thai is helping to make it so leafy and lovely, too.
    For a providore of Exotic Leaves, you're going to need a kaffir lime tree next! Then a lemon myrtle...

  3. My little curry tree is finally having a growth spurt after being ravaged by caterpillars. It's still a little too young to prune, though I look forward to picking fresh leaves for my Indian dishes

  4. Yes, maybe I can do a swap with you - some lemon myrtle leaves for curry leaves? :P

  5. I have been an admirer of your curry leaf tree! It's amazing!!!! I have been keeping a look out of a curry leaf plant in my local nursery so that I may have one just like yours!

  6. I had exactly the same thought in Safeway when I saw that Kaffir lime leaves were selling for over $3 for a small packet. My little tree must also be worth a small fortune!

  7. Indira, you know how make me feel envious! LOL Not because I don't have a curry leaf tree anymore but because my three, Indira Naidoo [Indira the curry leaf tree not the real person], Baby [nobody puts baby in a corner] and Johnny [Castle] are nowhere near the size of your fabulous tree! BUT they are growing great guns...especially Indira and Johnny!

    Coby, you shouldn't have any trouble growing a curry leaf tree in suburban Melb. My FIL in Essendon has a number of them and frequently gives ones he's propogated to family members and none of the trees has died.

    I freeze the stems as well as use them fresh. I'm considering not cutting stems during winter when i've been told the trees will become dormant. so at this stage I'm cutting stems and freezing for use during the winter period.

    One day, I hope my trees are as impressive as yours!!!

  8. Sell them to Fratelli Fresh!