Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Growing pineapples, figs, kiwis, tangerine, papaya, avocado in Zone 6 UPDATE (video)

A month or so ago I posted the video "Growing grapes, figs, & papaya in Zone 6", showing the progress on the grapes, figs, and papaya plants in the food forest garden. I received mixed criticism from those who KNOW you cannot grow papaya trees in this region. In response to the criticism, I am fully aware that the papaya trees, even avocado trees, that are growing up from the compost, may not produce any fruits, and may not survive inside the home during winter months. But, I am taking full precaution in growing tropical fruits in containers in a temperate climate.

papaya seedlings
I have already transplanted some papaya seedlings to containers, which they will grow in throughout the winter indoors. Then in the Spring, I will transplant them to larger containers, and I will do this for the next couple of years. At some point, I may experiment with these trees by growing them in an half underground greenhouse. But this will all be in the future.
There are so many papaya seedlings sprouting, that it seems a waste not to try and experiment!
As mentioned, I have avocado trees also growing up in compost piles similar to the Papaya seedlings. I will be transplanting these as well into containers, and take them inside before winter. I usually have a avocado tree sprouting in the compost every summer, and then I transplant it and it most usually dies indoors during the winter months. But I am going to take better care of these plants.

Besides avocados and papaya, another tropical fruit I am growing in containers are pineapples. With all the pineapples I buy from the store, I save the top to re grow in a container. I have never attempted this before, but I imagine other people have with success. Like the other tropical fruits, I have transplanted pineapple tops into containers where they will remain throughout the winter indoors. Then in the spring, I will transplant them into larger pots. Within the two to three years, I will have a new pineapple fruit. Hey! That will save my $4 from the store. Well, I don't see it that way. How I see it is, I am growing a food that would have otherwise been shipped across the border via fossil fuels and slave labor.

The two most interesting fruits I have growing, Hardy Kiwis and Chicago Hardy Figs, are both hardy varieties so that I can grow them outdoors in my region. I have been growing these for the last couple of years, and I expect the kiwis to produce fruit next year. Fig trees/shrubs produce early in their stages of life, and figs are known to produce several flushes of fruits throughout the year in their native lands. The Chicago hardy fig trees I have growing, have over 10 big figs growing along the stem. Already I see the figs gaining a purple color to them. I hope they manage to ripen before the cold fall months. Last year I had one measly fig that had no time to grow, and of course it was already November by the time I noticed the fig.
When growing the Hardy Kiwis and Figs outdoors throughout the winter, I overwinter these plants with huge piles of leaf debris/mulch. You can see in my video last year where I overwintered the fig trees using a cage of mulch, here: Over wintering Chicago hardy fig trees.

You may remember back in January when I showed you these tangerine sprouts. Here they are now, in the picture below. These seedlings are tiny and have not grown quickly like other fruit trees.

Tangerine seedlings

I love tropical fruits, which is why I desperately attempt to grow these plants in a temperate climate. However, I favor sweet blueberries most of all, and I am glad I can grow them easily in my region. I have nearly 20 blueberry plants, and will continue to cover the property with blueberries. Other cold hardy fruits I grow are Peaches, Pears, Plums, Paw paws, and Cherry. These are some of my favorite fruits as well. I would love to start growing Rainer Cherries--they have an amazing flavor.
I have maybe 20 Paw paw trees growing, and continue to add paw paw trees from different locations to ensure pollination.
Anyone that is interested in growing cold hardy fruit trees and fruit bushes, I have made a list of those uncommon fruits for people living in colder climates: List of Uncommon Cold Hardy Fruit Trees (Gardening Zones 3-7. I am sure there are many other fruits to grow in cold climates, but I wanted to provide a list of fruits that would certainly be worth growing.

For a tour of the tropical fruit trees and seedlings growing, watch the video below.

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