Sunday, June 15, 2008

Papayas, Cashews and it is a Hibiscus

Going to nurseries here is really fun. If you give yourself 15 or 20 dollars you can have a blast and come home with a lot of new things. On the other hand, 15 dollars is the water bill for the month so it really is a lot. I limited myself to $12 on this last trip and got 3 more of the Brazilian gigantic parcha and this "Pajuil" tree which is a cashew! There is a nursery just south of Home Depot and they have a cashew that has the false fruits and nuts on it right now. I was pretty sure it was a cashew, but they wrote down Pajuil and when I looked it up I was right. They were telling me that you eat the fruit but it is kind of like the "stinky sock" tree they call Hog tree (or hogue tree or something). The flesh is really weird, but out of it comes one hook like little cashew which you have to roast to eat. The tree isn't really pretty, but hey - the fruit is a weird one! For $3? We have space.

When we arrived there was a pathetic little shrub with totally contorted bug eaten leaves. Before cutting things down or digging them out I wait for them to do something. After cutting it back severely it has gotten new leaves and pushed out this double hibiscus! Worth keeping and making cuttings of definitely. It is hard to see, but we planted papayas from seed about 3 months ago on the contour of our lower slope. As they grow I am clearing around them and cutting in terraces so it will be easier to walk and maintain. I am staggering a row of papaya, a row of guineos, row of papayas and zig zagging them to maximize soil holding abilities and keep them from interfering with each other. We have 30 or more papayas and if they all fruit if it is at the same time we will really need a dehydrator. With the bananas it is easy to understand why you do things with them at all stages - green, amarillo, maduro, black spotted etc. They all ripen at once. At night I watch the bats hang on the ripe clusters and fly between the bananas and mango in Coqui Valley. The papayas are starting to bloom so it is time to start figuring out who is who.

It might be too early to tell, but I believe these are female flowers. They are close to the stalk and are opening.

These are male flowers, hanging on a long stem in clusters. We cut this one and it did not change sex but I am keeping it because it is green, not interfering with anything and the flowers are very fragrant!

We planted papayas from the seeds of three different papayas that all had a different color flesh and different taste. To our surprise just about everything germinated. How many papayas does a person need? Not this many, but we'll cull them when they do or don't do something. In the beginning I water things every day for the first week, every few days after that and then I don't unless I happen to be watering a new thing nearby. We are still waiting for the "rainy season." In the dry season we had rain every day around 2 or 3 for an hour or two. Right now? De nada. So out I go to water the vetiver grass, the watermelon, peppers, and batata amarilla...

A word on spacing...I didn't expect a lot of the seeds to grow so I planted things too close. Nothing here should be closer than 5 feet and "little" trees and shrubs I suggest a 15 foot at center minimum. Our mature trees overlap and merge at this spacing. Overlapping and the understory thing is great unless you want heavy fruiting. But hey, how much fruit can two people and neighbors eat?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff & Katrina!

I remember the older people in the family always recommending to keep at least a single male papaya tree within the fruit bearing ones for pollination. It made sense to me at the time, but then again I don't think I could actually distinguish them myself.