Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Experiments of Tropical Desires?

I know you're out there.  You.  The one whom questions life and the ability to grow tropical things.  Right now it's moist, hot, sticky, and well.....tropical.  You've apparently forgotten our winter freeze and you're beginning to ask yourself some interesting questions.....Can I grow a mango from seed?  Can I grow coffee from seed?  Ginger root? What about papaya? Or.....avocado?  What if Peter Pan grew up? These are such lovely questions to ask ourselves during this time of tropical madness.

Tucson is subtropical and I love that we carry that title because for about 3 months out of the year, we sweat and curse the Gods for such moisture to enter our world.  Swamp coolers no longer work and A/C is on at full blast. Why couldn't we grow these lovely fruits?  Here are several reports out of my own backyard in Tucson.  These were conducted over the past 10 years for fun.  Again remember that I'm talking about our desert climate while describing the seed experience here in the Old Pueblo.  So let's get ready to play with nature.......

Avocado.  You ate an avocado and you fell in love with the fruit.  You can't let this flavor go and you say, "What the hey?!  I'm going to plant this large seed." Memories of Mexico and the Superbowl surface and a smile forms on your face.  You follow the toothpic rule.  Half the seed in the water and the other half out.  Then a crack.  Then a sprout.  It grows and you put the new little baby avocado into the soil and it GROWS!!!  So what next?  The first few months are beautiful and the plant shows sign of life and happiness.  It is possible to keep your avocado plant in a pot, but the tricky part is making sure it finds a spot that it likes.  The minute it is placed in the wrong spot, the plant will decline and eventually die. It is super frost sensitive...even more than the citrus.  If this plant dies, it dies for good. Avocado do not grow very well in Tucson and so putting them into the ground will mean eventual death...although miracles have been known to happen. See my post on Avocados and Unicorns at a religious center here in Tucson.  Avocados MAY do well in their pots but the minute we have that first freeze, it's "Adios amigos."  A few trees are reported growing in the Tucson area. 

How depressing!!!  What about coffee?  Coffee will grow during the summer.  Trader Joe's will occassionally sell this plant and get people excited.  I tried growing this plant in my own garden, but the frost killed it.  So I got angry and tried again, but this time, I wouldn't be stupid.....I'd bring it into my house....where it eventually died.  Not enough humidity or sun during the winter.  Now I've been to coffee plantations in Central America on horseback so I know the conditions have to be wet and dry...and warm.'s tricky. Just wait on my report about the Geisha fields outside of Boquete, Panama.  Delish!!!  The only coffee tree/bush that I know of is at the BioDome.  However, I'm sure someone has coffee growing somewhere:)

Mango.  Delicious and juicy.  It grows here, but put it in a pot.  This plant is a bit more tolerant of the cold but not by much.  You have to move this plant around a lot and it's high maintenance in the winter.  Too exhausting......

Alright.  What about ginger root?  That's tropical.  Forget about it.  Too much water and it will rot....not enough and it will dry out. None of it growing at all.  I actually, in a glorious moment of gardening, had a root grow for me.......and then die.  Bummer.  Ginger is VERY tricky to grow, but who knows....maybe there is a closeted Ginger out there. LOL!!!  Bad Joke......but seriously........

Papaya.  The little black seeds go into the ground and they pop up!!!  A plant is born and to end this post on a higher's the plant that will have better success in a pot.  Plus you can easily manage this a pot.  It grows tall with an attractive leaf structure. With a 75 percent success rate,  I've grown it over and over again......but there are times I would just let it die because I wanted to use the pot for something else.....there are better tropical plants out there for our subtropical climate.  However, if you are curious about these experiments, you should try them out.  I've gotten all of them to grow and if you have a greenhouse here in Tucson, these will grow for you and look lovely in that greenhouse.  They all need consistent heat and humidity throughout the year, but Tucson only gets that tropical moisture and heat for 3 months out of the year.

Looks like weed although I'd never admit growing that stuff.
 There you have it.......maybe you have a success story that you'd like to share?  And if you don't live in the Tucson area, what plants have you experimented with? Panama adventures coming soon.......

1 comment:

  1. I must admit that you drew me in with the photo of cats in sombreros.

    Now that I'm here, I'm laughing about what you said about being an experimenter. I'm not so much this way, but my mum sure is. And a lot of stuff works for her! She'll be the only person on the block who was able to grow something from a seed that no one else will be able to grow. It's ridiculous. :D


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