Another Project — “Papaya”

“You must want to be a farmer!”

With those words, a friend of mine has gotten me to think.  Is there some subconscious desire stirring within my head that wants me to develop a green thumb?  Having dallied in various other bits of plant life, I wonder just how green it could be.

It seems as though the only plant I’m having a tremendous success with is my fragrant Dama de Noche or Night-blooming Jasmine.  Really can’t go very wrong with that plant – some cultures look at is as a weed.  It certainly can grow like a weed.  It really makes my thumb green, though!

Time to try something else, however.  Something that bears fruit that is tasty and fun to eat.  The dragon fruit project is a long-term one, still in the planning phase, so enjoying that fruit is a future blessing.  There had to be something else that I could try my hand at.

All at once, the idea hit me.  I had been saving some dried out papaya seeds “just in case,” and it seems that the case had arrived.  Prior to leaving on vacation, I planted some of the seeds, figuring that if plants grew then fine.  If plants did not grow, then there were other seeds to try another time.

Now, I have five plants trying to achieve tree status.  They range from a foot high to about a foot and a half.  I may have to transplant them – something that should be avoided if possible, as disturbing a papaya plant causes set-backs in development.  I need to get some organic fertilizer to them.  Papaya are “hungry” plants.

As they are young, it’s difficult to determine what sex the plants are.  Did I say, “sex”?  Yes, I did.  There are male plants, female plants, and bisexual plants.  Male plants do not bear fruit and are the first to produce flowers.  Female and bisexual plants are the fruit bearers, and desirable to have.

Papayas start flowering when they are about one meter tall. The males flower first and have long, thin stalks with several small blooms. Female plants usually have single blooms that are bigger and very close to the trunk.  Were I to have a papaya plantation, I would have a male to female ratio of about one to ten (1:10).  I wonder:  could all five of my plants be male?  Could they all be bisexual?  I’m starting to doubt the shade of my thumb!

Now supposedly, it takes about ten months from seedling status to fruit production.  I believe I’m behind the growth curve in that instance.  Since flowering takes place on plants about a meter tall, and my plants are half a meter tall, then the common wisdom says they’ll be bigger and flowering in five months time.   Math can be so convenient at times of doubt!

My mind is a happy jumble – as you’ve been reading and guessing.  For now, it’s just a waiting game.  Need to find those undesirable males and vanquish them – need to wait until they identify themselves.  Once we’ve identified the sexes, then the fertilizing and plant care starts up in earnest.  When we have the “correct sex” plants thriving and producing, we’ll cut the tops back a little so that we can keep the plants at manageable sizes.

Hopefully, at this time next year we’ll be enjoying fresh papaya, bananas, dragon fruit and, oh yes, did I mention that I have a couple of grafted mango tree saplings that are ready for planting?  Maybe there is an inner stirring to be a farmer or a plantation owner rustling within me.

Post Author: PaulK (218 Posts)

Paul is a CPA and a retired tax accountant, having served companies and corporations of all sizes, as well as individuals, in public accounting practices. Prior to what he refers to as his "real job," he served a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer. It was during this career that he met and married his OFW spouse of 35+ years, Emy, while stationed in London, UK. (Though he pleaded for the assignment, Paul never received orders to the Philippines.) A "Phil-phile" from an early age, Paul remembers his first introduction to the Philippines in the primary grades of a parochial elementary school where, one week each year, children donated their pennies to purchase school supplies, food and other necessities for Filipino children in need. That love for Filipinos continues to this day. Calling Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte--in the far northwestern part of Luzon--home (just about as far away from Davao as one can be while still being on one of the major islands) Paul prefers a more relaxed provincial life style, and willingly shares a different view of the Philippines from "up north"!

Live in the Philippines Consulting


  1. Neal in RI says

    You should have go at growing “Medical Marijuana” if you want a real adventure. Very easy to grow very easy to determine the sex of the plants and you would be enjoying the fruits of your labor in a lot less time than 1 year. However I don’t know what the laws and regulations there in RP would be on that crop.

    • says

      Hi Neal – It’s not that I haven’t thought about that cash crop. I do know that the fruits of my labor would be “enjoyed” behind bars as soon as I was caught.

      • Neal in RI says

        NO I did not read that piece. It seems in the past that the RP seems to follow the trends in the US so I figured they would be on board with the Medical Marijuana trend. HOWEVER! I have since read a few things on the internet that say that Marijuana is treated just the same as a hardcore drug is there in RP and possession of any small amount at all is dealt with very harshly.

        OK so I am off to read John’s article

      • Neal in RI says

        WOW The BI can arrest you for any reason any time without warrant, not exactly user friendly legal system. Perhaps you should moderate my above post right out. Just my luck I will step off the plane in Manila and be led straight to the pokey.

        • says

          Hi Neal – Actually, I didn’t say anything about the BI arresting you. What I thought I said, maybe i was not clear enough, is that talking publicly about things like illegal drugs, or having any suspicion on you regarding drugs will get you killed. I mean that literally. You can be murdered for that sort of comment publicly. Friendly or not… that’s just the truth, at least in this part of the country.

        • John Miele says


          The BI can arrest you, and it isn’t a good idea to put that type of statement in a public forum (In the comments on my article, someone mentioned a web site run by an expat heading into that realm).

          However, I agree with Bob that you will attract the attention of people who you do not wish to meet… and I’m not talking cops. It may be a minor thing that lots of people may do in the States, but it is very dangerous here. Another pair of related topics that were recently on this site were discussions of starting money lending businesses or starting strip clubs / bars here. Either of those activities invite the same unwanted attention and can also get you killed.

          All of this is related to keeping a low profile. Think about it for a minute… When I first went up North, very few foreigners venture up there… And within days, rumors were circulating ranging from that I was in the CIA to I was smuggling to I was trafficking (All silly, and all have disappeared since then, but nonetheless). Can you imagine if I wrote on a blog that I supported legalization or something?

          Also, not too long ago, there was someone killed in the mountains near there who merely stumbled on a field of things growing. He was completely innocent, but he saw something he should not have seen.

  2. Don says

    Is there anyway to stagger the times when the trees bear fruit? Or will you have a huge bonanaza of banana, papaya, dragon fruit, mango at the same time?

    My brother used to have a mango tree at his place in Hawaii. It drew in so many birds and other animals (and kids) that it was a real nuisance in the early mornings. He would find kids climbing up the tree trying to steal the fruit and was worried someone would fall out and break their neck. Was a big liability – keep the trees short.

    • says

      Hi Don – Can’t really say that there will be a bonanza. 😆

      – It’s time to get rid of old banana plants and put a couple of new ones in. :(
      – The mango trees still need to be transplanted. Am keeping them short so that we can reach the fruit without hassle.
      – The dragon fruit is still in the planning stage, with one or two other projects needing to be completed first.
      – The papaya will still take about four to five months before they flower. Will be keeping them as short as we can, too.

      So, bonanza time is in the future for us. I’d imagine that we’ll have papaya first, if all goes well. :)

  3. Aklan Heat says

    Hello Paul,

    I love papayas! When they’re green love them with chicken tinola. When they’re ripened I just peel them and love them for snacks. And canned, cartoned, or bottled papaya juice when cold or chilled oh my my mouth is watering already! LOL! Thanks for the article. Didn’t know the “sex thing” about papayas! Haha!

    • says

      Hi Aklan Heat – Yes, papayas are a favorite of mine, too! 😉

      We were given a couple of green papayas last week and, with a “native” chicken, we enjoyed our tinola! MMmmmm! 😀

      I’m hoping that we can enjoy some fresh, home-grown papaya before we leave on our vacation to the States next year. Hopefully, our plants are mostly females or bisexuals. No fruit if they’re all males!

        • says

          Thanks, Mars – We’ll have to try and fix some Atsara.

          Herb growing is okay – many people grow their herbs in old containers and pots sitting in their yards. Easier to control the elements, I guess.

        • Aklan Heat says

          Hello Mars,

          Yup you are! Forgot about Atsara made of green papaya. I grew up with that sort of stuff too. In fact, I have some Atsara about 3 months ago and that was my first time in so many, many years. The Atsara was made by a relative here in the States and is selling them in jars. Thanks!

          • Mars Z. says

            Yes, Atsara is my Grandma’s holiday fixin’s. Just like during the pear and peach fall season here, where lots of people canned pear and peach preserves. BTW, what part of Aklan are you from?


            • Aklan Heat says

              Hello Mars,

              I was born and grew up in Brgy. Ochando, New Washington, Aklan, Philippines until I was a teenager. Since that time I’ve been living in California with my family. BTW, why are you inquiring? Thanks!

  4. queeniebee says

    Hi Paul, Sounds like a fun venture that will have you and your family with fruit in no time.
    Back when I first lived with a host family as a Peace Corps volunteer, my host father would take me all over town on his motorcycle asking for papaya on my behalf, but it was really needed to feed my two pet fruit doves, or punays!
    I’ve grown to love papaya myself now, but have only grown a couple of trees in our yard so far. You’re right about not moving them around once they get growing larger, as they won’t do well with moving them. The ideal for growing is the large variety shown in your photo as you get a better yield. Best to pick them when green and let them ripen indoors as the birds in the day and fruit bats at night are just waiting for those papaya to turn yellow and ripen on the trees.
    In Liloan, a couple of towns away from Cebu City, I’ve seen good- sized papaya groves with fruit for sale, so it’s heartening to think that it can be done on a larger scale. In your area though, in that can suffer more with root rot from heavy rain during rainy season, it’s probably best to keep planting new trees every few months or so, so that you always have new strong ones to bear fruit.
    I too think that growing things can be very satisfying and worthwhile, even though it often means “trial and error” on my part. A lot of the actual grunt work goes to my husband or garden helpers though, I have to admit.
    I’ve got another fruit in mind to plant– a large scale grouping of calamansi or in “Bisaya” lemoncito seedlings, because they’re a great fruit for juice and cooking. What do you think? Anyway, best of luck with your ventures–I’m sure that your thumb will continue to become greener, and people around town will be asking you for advice!

    • says

      Hi Queenie – We have a couple of calamansi “bushes” growing and producing. Best thing for them is to keep them fertilized and watered. We use organic fertilizer provided by a friend at the local agricultural station. The fruit is used for everything, from cooking to adding to tea when the throat has a tickle.

      The soil where the papaya trees were planted has good water drainage, so hopefully root rot won’t be one of the problems that come up. Just finished fertilizing the trees – they’re certainly a “hungry” breed.

      As for the thumb – it’s less black and blue but I can see a light shade of green coming on! 😆

  5. Robert says

    These papayas on our property are one and a half (1,5) years old. They are doing so and so as you can see on the photo. They are all bearing fruit because we pre-selected the sex before planting the seedlings. It is easy to pre-select papaya sex. The non bearing fruit have one single root while the non bearing ones have a fuzzy kind of roots.
    On the second photo you can see two cut papaya stems that were trans-sexual. The new growing shoots should be fruit bearing type.
    By the way, with 25 papaya trees, three of us have fresh papayas everyday, three times a day, plus there is enough left for banana shakes.
    Have a fresh papaya day !!!

  6. Robert says

    My mistake, it should read like this:
    The NON bearing fruit have one single long root, while the bearing fruit have many short fuzzy kind of roots.

    • says

      Hi Robert – I didn’t know that about seedlings & sex selection. I’ll have to give that a try when the next round of plantings occur. Of course, I’d still would want to have one male (non-fruit bearing) around to polinate all the female (fruit bearing) plants.

      I still have plenty to learn when it comes to growing a green thumb! 😆

      Thanks for sharing. Perhaps I’ll have 25 trees some day and enjoy papaya as much as you do! 😀

  7. Robert says

    No need for male non bearing plants. We do not have a single one on our property but they have nice flowers if you like flowers.
    All papayas are self pollinating.
    We noticed that papayas do not like too much water. We lost quite a few a year ago during heavy rains. In my opinion bananas are easier to grow so we planted both, papayas and bananas. Maybe it is because of sandy soil, we are so (too) close to the beach.
    Try growing avocado and soursop, very easy.
    We also have a 3 years old bread-fruit tree bearing right now.
    On the farm we have a big variety of mature fruit trees.

    • says

      Hi Robert – Well, we’re in the very beginner’s stage of things. We’re looking forward to the papaya. Bananas we have – the small, fat type with thin skin and extra sweetness – but they need replacing. Will think about avocado, soursop and maybe bread-fruit and/or jackfruit. Who knows.

      This is all “backyard” fruit gardening right now. Perhaps in the future, we’ll expand into some farmland.

    • says

      Hi Lordvito9 – Well, it sounds a lot, lot larger than it really is. Everything is in the primary beginner’s stage. When we see what works and what doesn’t, then we might try to expand.

      I have an eye on some farmland a few kilometers away from the house – would be a nice place to put up a little shack and watch the plants grow! Maybe we’ll try to purchase it (if it’s still available) and plant it with fruit if our “backyard experiments” come out well.

      • Papa Duck says


        Well Paul your on your way to having a Plantation in the future. A couple of other options for fruit could be Plantains, similar to bananas with many cooking uses and Guava trees for juicing/jellies both grown here in Florida along with lychee fruit. If your interested in nut trees macadamias and cashew might be possibilities. Good luck and i’m sure you will be just fine. Be safe up north.

        • says

          Hi Papa Duck – That plantation will definitely be in the distant future! 😆

          I’m looking at trying to grow all sorts of things. This afternoon, I had the shovel out and looked forlornly at it. I got over any feelings or desires to use it quickly, however. Did think about turning over an 8′ x 8′ plot just to see what I could imagine as far as a use goes. Might just do it anyway and see what thoughts pop up. :)

  8. Biz Doc says

    hi paul, you’re living my long-term dream!

    backyard-scale or plantation-size, fruit trees are always a good thing. looking forward to your next green trials. i’d give my vote to your mango— plus avocado, jackfruit, durian, sineguelas, lanzones, breadfruit (for frying), soursop and guapple!


    • says

      Hi Biz Doc – Once I’ve decided where to put my mango trees, I’ll transplant them, fertilize them and watch them. I think it will take about three years to get some good fruit, but it’s worth the wait. The trees are grafted to produce those good mangos grown in Davao.

      I’m looking forward to my next project, too. Just looking, mind you, just looking. 😆

        • says

          No I haven’t, but it’s worth a thought. I wonder if they’ll grow well up here in the wind-blown, half-year rain, half-year dry north. I’ll have to investigate. Thanks! 😉

  9. sugar says

    Hi Paul – Is dama de noche a weed? But it’s a flower right? kinda..But there houses with dama de noche as plants. We used to have also that also and you only smell the fragrance during night time.. he he.

    • says

      Hi Sugar – In India and Bangladesh they consider it a weed. I, personally, think it’s one of my all time favorite flowering plants. When the plant is in full bloom on a warm evening, it’s a pleasure to sit in the breeze and let the fragrance surround you!

  10. Bruce Michels says

    Glad to see I know a farmer in the Philippines. I have a hugh garden here in the States (Florida). I grow alot of Filipino vegtables go figure. When I get there I plan on having a hugh garden again so It’s good to know I can get some tips from an expert.

    • says

      Hi Bruce – Well, I haven’t graduated to “green thumb” status; I’m still in the “black & blue” phase of agriculture. Any expert tips I would give right now would involve directing you to someone who really knows what he’s doing!

      Turned a small 64 sq. ft. plot of land this morning in an effort to “make dirt.” I did make a lot of dirt, then watered it down. Will “make dirt” there again tomorrow morning, and then pull all the loose weeds and other stuff out of the plot. Can’t decide what to put in there, but there’s plenty to do to get the plot ready in any case. I’m pretty good at making dirt, btw. 😆

      • Bruce Michels says

        Dirt,Sweat and beer with a good cigar sounds like a good combination to me.
        I’m down to 20 months and counting by then you should be a green thumb or expert dirt turner. My back up plan was to hire or befriend some old Filipino farmers to help me.

        • says

          Hi Bruce – Those last two items sound like the best to me! 😆

          Better make that back-up plan your primary. There are a lot of shades of blue, purple, red, orange and yellow that my thumb will have to go through prior to even looking as though there’s a hint or tint of green. 😀

          • Bruce Michels says

            Besides papaya having health benifits, Did you know bitter melon is very important in controling blood suger? Was told 2 months ago I was told I have type 2 diabetes. So I did some extensive research on how to control it with diet alone. I can across a large number of articles about bitter mellon and how it stablizes blood sugar. The plant mirrors the compound insulin so the body doesn’t over produce and it. Look it up for your self. So Paul in your garden make sure you plant bitter melon even though you my be healthy as a horse. A ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
            My asawa always told me bitter melon was good for the blood should of listened to her along time ago. They go natural we pop pills.

            • Bruce Michels says

              By the way blood sugar has been normal for 5weeks now a large part to a Filipino vegtables. Imagine that?

            • says

              Hi Bruce – Yes, we indulge in bitter melon! It’s part of ilocono quisine.

              I have some ampalaya seeds and have been thinking of growing some, but it remains pretty inexpensive at the market. Being basically cheap . . . . 😉

  11. Dine says


    Papaya is not only sweet and delicious but it has a lot of medicinal properties. It contains an enzyme called papain which has an anti inflammatory effect. If you are suffering from arthritis or any digestive problems….you should start eating papaya. Here in USA it cost too much money…in Kroger you can buy it for $2.00/ lb, therefore a small papaya can easily cost you $9.00 a piece. I try to eat half of it everyday. You have mentioned about planting an avocado tree…avocado also has a lot of medicinal properties, it is a powerful antioxidant. More power to you…keep on planting. Philippine climate will allow you to plant almost anything.

    • says

      Hi Dine – Thanks for the info. I knew papaya and avocado had medicinal purposes, but eat them for their delicious taste. 😉

      Funny thing – there are a few things in life that are good for you and taste good, too! 😆

    • says

      Thanks, Robert – The photos work wonderfully this time.

      Wish I had the room, time, patience, etc. 😀 25 trees would be nice to have.

  12. says

    Hi Paul, have you considered planting the dwarf or semi-dwarf varieties of papaya, so would not have to trim them? I have a dwarf variety in the garden of Chateau Du Mer loaded with fruits, almost touching to the ground.

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