In The Garden

Written By: The Lowdown - Jul• 01•13

It is a pleasure to wander into the garden and pick fresh fruit. Pawpaw trees (papaya) are very quick and easy to grow. Allow the ripe black seeds from a pawpaw to dry for a day or two then plant them in full sun in good soil. You cannot predict whether the tree will be male or female and only the female bears fruit so plant half a dozen or more. Water well and fertilise with manure, compost or wood ash. When the tree is about six months old it will produce flowers. Male flowers are held on stalks about 30 cms long. Female flowers grow right on the trunk and are larger. You will need one male tree for pollination and several female trees if you have enough space. In a few more weeks you should have a good supply of fruit. If the pawpaws are not sweet add more potash to the soil (contained in wood ash if available).


Serve pawpaw peeled, de-seeded and diced for breakfast with a little orange or lemon juice, or Mandarin segments. For a dessert, liquidise pawpaw with the juice of a small lemon, 2 teaspoonfuls of rose essence (optional but good), and sugar to taste.


Bananas are trickier and take longer to grow, but are worth the effort. Bananas are grown from suckers so ask around to find a friend with suckers to spare. Amiran may have plants on sale. Transplant into fertile soil with added compost in full sun. Space suckers at least 2 m apart. They must be sheltered from wind as they are equatorial plants that need warmth and humidity. Prevailing winds are from the east so plant them on the western side of a tall wall, building or thick grass fence. Water generously and give a thick layer of mulch (30 cms or more) to keep the roots warm. This is a good use for grass cuttings. Wait patiently for the bananas to flower and produce a bunch of fruit. The fruit will grow bigger and eventually start to ripen. At this point the whole bunch should be cut off the tree and a large cube cut into the centre of the stem above the fruit. Insert a teaspoonful or two of salt and replace the cube. Then push a wire through the stem and hang the whole bunch in well-ventilated shade out of the rain (perhaps in a garage). This will sweeten the bananas and speed up the ripening process. When the bananas are yellow they are ready to eat. Each banana stem will only produce one bunch. So after harvesting the bunch, remove that stem. Take out some of the suckers leaving only two or three well-spaced plants. The other suckers can be planted at a suitable distance or given to friends and neighbours.


Cape gooseberries are not often available to buy. The plants are easy to grow if you can get seeds. But various problems beset these fruit, like chickens, birds and monkeys that gobble down the fruit without permission. If you can protect your plants from these thieves, grow about 12 in sun. The paper cases will dry out as the fruit ripens. Cape gooseberries are delicious raw, as jam and as a dessert lightly stewed with a little sugar. Add yoghurt, cream or custard.


Strawberries are very easy to grow. However they need protection from slugs and also birds to some extent. Do not grow in the same ground as last year. Dig compost and fertilizer into the soil and plant new plants grown on runners from the old plants. They are cheap to buy although it is a bit late to start this year. Water regularly. The small white flowers will be followed by large red berries. Eat them raw, or liquidise them with castor sugar and cream. They make a delicious jam: do not add water but soften the fruit in a pan then add the same weight of sugar and some lemon juice. Stir until the jam thickens and sets when cold.


Avocado trees should be in every garden; lemon trees are a must; granadilla vines (passion fruit) are easy and prolific. Experiment with a fig tree or a macadamia nut or a prickly pear. Are you growing enough fruit?



You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.