Growing exotic fruits like pineapples or papayas is something you should try. You probably won't have enough to make a giant fruit salad, but I bet you'll have a lot of fun growing them!
"Pineapple (Ananas comosus)"
The pineapple will not multiply by seed, as it is sterile. To propagate it, you must buy a fresh pineapple and use the leaf crown at the top of the fruit as a cutting. Here's how to remove it: cut the fruit about 3 cm below the leaf crown (eat the rest, it's good!), and then take the core in one hand and the base of the leaf crown in the other, and twist. The leaf crown should separate from the fruit pretty easily. It must be planted as soon as possible. For optimal results, remove 2 or 3 rows of the lower leaves first. Those are small, it shoud be easy to do. Then, plant the cutting in a pot filled with potting soil. Pineapples love warm and sunny locations that are well ventilated. In the summer, take it outside on your patio or balcony. In the winter, it must be installed near a south-facing window. If all goes according to plan, you should have a fruit in about two years' time.
"Papaya tree (Carica papaya)"
Famous for its delicious scented fruits, the papaya tree comes from Central America and is now grown in all tropical regions. Papaya trees have a rapid growth, and in our climate, a seedling started in a greenhouse at the beginning of winter will have reached a little more than 1.50 m in height at the end of the summer. Take it indoors before the first frosts of fall (ideally, place it in a greenhouse or very sunny room), and its fruits will be ready by December or at the beginning of winter. If you buy an early flowering dwarf papaya tree cultivar, such as the ‘T.R. Hovey’ variety, you can hope for a few fruits in the summer. The papaya tree is easy to grow, but as it is very voracious, it must be watered and fertilized on a regular basis. Although it can be grown in a container on the patio, it performs best when planted in open soil, in a warm and sunny place with a rich, moist soil that drains well. Seeding is assuredly the easiest and most efficient way to propagate the papaya tree. You can easily find seed at your supermarket or fruit store. Planted 6 mm deep in a soil made up of equal parts of compost, peat moss and perlite, the seed will germinate in 20 to 30 days at a temperature of 75ºF. You can accelerate the process by removing the aril (the translucent cover around each seed). Then, allow the seed to dry in the open air for one day, and before planting them, soak the seed for about 12 hours in warm distilled water.
By Albert Mondor, horticulturist
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