Carob trees by Sol Daniel aged 12

My nanny and granddad have a carob tree in their garden. Carob trees are easy to grow in Cyprus and they will grow almost anywhere you plant them. They can live in areas with not much rain although it does not do well in wet soil. During a drought a carob tree can still fruit. Its fruit is edible and tastes nice. A carob tree starts producing fruit at the age of 6 to 15 and stops when it’s a 100 years old. It can live in temperatures between -6o C (20o F) to 50o C (120o F). The best ground it can grow in is poor, salt-rich, rocky and sandy soil.

The carob is its part of the pea family (leguminosae or fabaceae). A few of its family members are sweet pea, peanut, soya bean and garden pea. You can grow carob trees in Australia, California, Arizona, Mexico, South America, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Africa and of course Cyprus.

The carob tree is evergreen the tallest a carob tree gets is 15 to17m. Unlike most of the pea family the carob tree does not have big colourful flowers, it has tiny white flowers. Don’t worry the carob tree rarely needs pruning and can produce fruit without fertilizing.

Hundreds of years ago carob seeds would be used to weigh gold, diamonds and rubies. One carob seed = 200 milligrams. They use the bean gum (seed) to thicken products like tooth paste, shaving foam, baby food and canned cat and dog food. It is also used in canned soup, salami, cheese, bakery products, dessert fruit fillings, jam and sauces. The paper industry use bean gum to thicken paper.

After World War 2 there was a shortage of chocolate so as a substitute the school children had carobs and now they use carob as a substitute for chocolate for people who are allergic to cocoa beans.

The carob tree is fire resistant (takes a long time to burn) some farmers in Spain put carob trees around their crops to stop the fire reaching them and they are pest free too. Carob tree timber can be made into bowls, vases and sculptures it can even be made into slow burning charcoal. A young carob is known as one of the worst types of weeds although personally I don’t even think it’s a weed and, after reading all this, do you?

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