“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.