Planting a Food Forest..Starting with Papaya

One of the great things about living in the subtropics is that you can plant year round. Another great thing is that when you plant the likelihood of a mega rain storm to water your new plants is pretty certain, especially this time of year.

I decided to start a food forest on the property we are currently living on. The owner loves the idea and this area was once a nursery so there are already 4 very, very large mango trees, 2 avocado trees, bananas, pigeon peas, hibicus, and figs planted here. It’s a big space so creating a food forest will be a great addition to the landscape. Although, you can create a food forest of any shape and size, even indoors.
IMG_2538A food forest will provide food for wildlife, and us. It will provide shelter, shade, and the falling leaves will mulch out the grass, so there is less to cut and less emissions from cutting. I’ll get into the many reasons to get rid of your grass on another post. It’s actually a really good thing not to have grass covered yards. Coming soon…

Papaya is a favorite fruit of mine. It has such a sweet, creamy taste and when they are fresh it’s even better.

Growing Papaya isn’t hard, you can keep the seeds from any organic Papaya, and 9 times out of 10 they grow into a hardy tree and produce fruit.

These three Papaya trees are from a neighbor. He loves to grow, eat, and share them. So I’m starting my food forest with these three trees.

IMG_2459They are about 3 feet tall, long and thin, and a bit hard to see in the picture.

IMG_2541One of the bunnies ate the top off my 12″ tall Papaya tree. I was worried that it would die but it came back even stronger. Sometime later, one of my garden friends told me that in Cuba they cut the tops off at that size so they will grow back dwarfed. It makes it easier to pick the fruit as Papaya trees can grow pretty tall. Thank you Gizmo, you are a great gardener!

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Papaya trees like water and boy did they get a lot of it today! I planted last night and today was our first mega rain storm of the year. It rained 2.23″ which is way more than the average rain fall for this time of year. Umm, I think we’re “going to need a bigger boat”

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The Papayas, and the rest of the plants loved the fresh rain, which filled the pool to overflow status, and both ponds too. Everything looks bright green after a mega rain, and the frogs are singing like they hit the lotto. I love it!

So in about 6 months we will have juicy fresh Papaya, great for salads (if you like green Papayas), desserts, or just fresh with a spoon, some lime juice, and salt. Yummy!

Papaya has so many nutrients and is thought to help with digestion. The seeds are great for killing parasites. Many animals like it and receive benefits from it, but check with your vet first just to make sure.

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If you want to try growing a Papaya indoors there are many people who have had lots of success with that, and now that you know the ‘trick of the tropics” to keep them small you are ready for a food forest of your own.

Enjoy!

S

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