Papaya Trees


Two kinds of papaya trees and a couple of medjool date palms

Though the papayas aren’t technically part of our vegetable garden, I spent a lot of time getting them to germinate, live, and grow. Actually, I probably spent more time fussing with the papayas than I spent weeding and mulching the vegetables.

The papaya plant, usually referred to as a tree, is actually a large, fast-growing woody herb. The plants usually start flowering when they are five months old, and have ripe fruit when they are 8 months to a year. The lifespan is usually only 3-4 years, but some papaya plants have lived for a decade or more. I guess it just depends on how well it is cared for!

My papaya fascination started in mid-march, when I read that people all over the United States successfully grow papayas in their homes and even get fruit from them! Also, I saw a few at the Como Park Conservatory last summer and they’re just so pretty – they would make a nice green addition to a home. I started planting seeds at the end of march, but had very bad results. These guys started germinating in early June, but it wasn’t until mid-July that I finally had a tray of seedlings that weren’t dying off. Supposedly, they will grow 8 inches in two months, and really take off after that.

The plan is to bring them inside for the winter – so I guess this can be a “winter gardening” project. I’m going to have to invest in some more lighting because we don’t have any good windows for plants. Depending on how many of them I have, maybe I’ll bring one up to the food co-op. I think I’ll line the walkway up to the house with them next summer (if they survive…).

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