The Gardens of Chiconia 33: How you’ve grown!

Those of you who’ve been with me since the start will remember my baby mango.

Baby mangoThis is how he looked when I first brought him home in September 2013 from Mullumbimby, in northern NSW. I was told he’d grow fast, and that I could hope for fruit in 3 or 4 years. Now, a couple of years later, I still think the latter statement’s a bit optimistic, but in this coming week, my baby is all grown up and leaving home. Or, as normal people would put it, he’s getting planted in the ground instead of his now rather constricting tub. It’s autumn, the weather is cooler so he won’t be so stressed by moisture loss, and he’s not currently in a growth phase. It’s time.

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 7.56.10 amHere he is today. Same tub, to give you an idea of scale. Considerably taller than I am, and feeling quite at home in his new tropical setting. We have the spot picked and marked out. The Husband and I will peel off the turf for a square metre, dig out the soil onto a tarp, add pelletised chicken manure, blood and bone, compost and a couple of handfuls of worm castings, a dose of my Garden tea and mix that lot up with some of the soil. In he goes on top, with his roots teased out as much as possible, then backfill with the soil on the tarp. He needs to be on a slight mound, to ensure drainage in the Wet. We’re building an edging around the metre of bare earth to give us something to whippersnip and mow up to. Inside that edging will be a thick, fluffy bed of mulch: comfrey, shredded sugar cane trash, alfalfa hay, etc. He gets a little bit of clear space around the trunk to prevent rot, 20 litres of water, and then we leave him to settle into his new quarters. It’s like sending your child off to college.

I hope he’s  not too lonely out there in the back yard… But then, all the other trees in tubs are getting planted out over the course of the next few months, so he’ll have company – the avocado will be next door, and there will be bananas moving in nearby. I have their spots picked out, according to their future size, sun/shade preference and to a lesser extent, my convenience in getting food and water to them. Which reminds me, I must speak to the Dowager about banana suckers for the damp patch beside the shed, corms for gingers, cuttings from the ground cover and leaf cuttings for succulents…. And I must get some pineapples, so we can cut off the leafy tops and plant them. Fresh pineapples of our own in a couple of years!

Can you tell that gardening season has started in the tropics?

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26 thoughts on “The Gardens of Chiconia 33: How you’ve grown!

  1. All your posts make me green with envy, but this one takes the cake. and me straight back to our tropical garden in Seychelles. I don’t buy tropical fruit here, because it’s never the same as it’s picked too unripe, and mango in particular doesn’t travel well.

    • katechiconi says:

      I agree, there’s nothing at all to beat fresh mango or pineapple, and what has been sitting in the shops for a few weeks bears very little resemblance to what you eat straight off the tree.

  2. lucyannluna says:

    All that exotic fruit in your own garden is fantastic. We just get a few raspberries & alpine strawberries, if we get there before the dogs.

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s too hot here for raspberries, so you’ve got the advantage of me there! I can’t do peaches, apples, pears, plums, nectarines, cherries or any of those types of thing because they need winter chill and we don’t get cold enough.

      • lucyannluna says:

        I would love to grow the exotic fruit, but I’m not into the hot weather & scary bugs that go with it. So even though the grass always looks greener on the other side I will stick to my chilly woodland fruits.

      • katechiconi says:

        You could probably manage a pineapple in a pot! They’re quite happy indoors as house plants, but they do get quite big…

  3. tialys says:

    I am envious – all those fruits I use in my smoothies and it’s hard getting a properly ripe mango, avocado or pineapple from the supermarket.

    • katechiconi says:

      You could grow a dwarf mango in a tub so long as you could bring it into a conservatory in the winter. Pineapples will grow very happily in a big pot as an oversized house plant. Avocados are a bit trickier, but my sister in northern NSW has one which survives 5 degrees of frost every winter and gives masses of fruit; you just need to protect it when it’s young.

  4. claire93 says:

    hasn’t he grown big and strong!

  5. Carole says:

    Aw, your baby is all grown up 🙂

    Love the sound of all that delicious fruit.

  6. he’ll grow a lot faster when he’ll be free in the soil ! I wouldn’t be surprised you’ll have fruit next year !

  7. EllaDee says:

    Autumn is a great time of year, and although I enjoy seasonal changes it would be great to be able to take advantage of a growing season. We planted the mango tree last December that Dad accidentally grew from a seed, and it survived summer so fingers crossed for winter. You give me such wonderful ideas, information and inspiration 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      I’ve always found that a plant that’s happy where it is will be much harder to kill, whether it’s by heat, dehydration or frost. A few simple measures of defence and protection can make all the difference – give your mango a cloth windbreak in the uphill direction so that frost flows around it, and fill between the tree and the windbreak with fluffed straw. I hope it will help to bring the little tree through its most vulnerable years; once it’s older it’ll be much hardier, and the same for avocadoes.

  8. Jen Gardener says:

    Oh my goodness what a clever mango! He’s so happy! 🙂

  9. Kirsten says:

    Okay, hang on a minute, not that I wish to sound like the blonde I am, but, you can grow pineapples by sticking one in the ground???? No seeds????

    • katechiconi says:

      You have to find a pineapple with its green leafy top still on. Cut the top off close to the top of the pineapple. Let this leafy bit dry for a couple of days. Remove any fruity bits and the last few leaves. Tuck this into a pot of seedling mix. Water. Wait. It’ll take a while, but will strike root. You know it’s worked when you start seeing new green leaves emerging from the centre. Pineapples are bromeliads, and grow from suckers or slips in commercial life. Using a top will grow you a new plant but it takes 3-6 months longer for it to produce fruit (15-18 instead of 12 months), so commercial growers use slips or suckers. In the tropics, you can literally, as you say, stick it in the ground! In temperate zones, pot it first and coddle it a bit, keeping it warm and in a sunny spot.

  10. Grannymar says:

    Your garden sounds like an exotic fruit salad! I am salivating at the very thought.

    PS: My thimble arrived today and I look forward to testing it out tomorrow!

    • katechiconi says:

      It sounds that way, but so far the only trees I’ve eaten any fruit from are the star fruit and the lime tree. The mandarin is ripening, so there’s hope there if the lorikeets don’t beat us to it!
      I don’t know if you’ll fall in love with the thimble, but it’s certainly more comfortable than the usual hard kind and has made quilting WWF possible in a relatively short time, without stops for healing breaks!

      • Grannymar says:

        I’ll let you know how I get on. I put it on my finger and almost forgot to take it off, so it is comfortable to wear – that never happened before, in the past I spent more time crawling about on the floor searching for the old silver one.

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