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Author Topic: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today  (Read 8358 times)

TNAndy

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I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« on: August 07, 2012, 09:21:35 AM »
I bought a "T.R. Hovey" Papaya seedling on June 23, 2011 from Wellspring Gardens on eBay.  By the end of the year, it had flowered and three fruits were starting to develop.  I waited for the oldest fruit to fully ripen on the tree before I picked it yesterday.  It was larger than a softball; smaller than a football--a little over half the size of store-bought papaya.  The rind was a deep lemon yellow and nearly all of the green specks had faded.  I almost waited too long to pick it.  It still had significant green spots last week, but by Monday the flower end was starting to go bad.

When I cut it open, I expected red flesh, but this fruit was golden yellow through and through.  Store-bought papaya seems to be packed with seeds, but the seeds were more sparse in mine.  All the seeds appear to be fully mature.

It was delicious.  It was less stringy and much firmer than most papaya I have tasted before--easily as firm as a cantaloupe.  It was sweet, but less sweet than tropic-grown papaya, again comparable to cantaloupe.  I have no idea if this variety normally has less sugar than the red varieties I tasted before or whether this is a result of not growing it in the tropics.  I live in Tennessee, zone 6b.

Wellspring shipped this in a 1-1/2 inch pot.  I potted it up into a six inch container before transplanting it to a 24 inch diameter half-whisky-barrel liner.  I brought it inside to my sunroom last October.  By December it was blooming, but all but three flowers fell off (and they continue to drop off now).  Unfortunately, my sunroom has only a small heater, so most of my tropicals go dormant during the coldest months. The only effect I can see is the distance between leaves became shorter.  Now that the plant is warm again, this distance is lengthening again.  I use Miracle-Gro potting mix exclusively, but do not recommend the moisture control stuff.  Once the built-in fertilizer runs out, I tend to use organic fertilizers, but sometimes use osmocote to save time.

I recommend this dwarf variety and this vendor for greenhouse/sunroom growers.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2012, 09:23:18 AM by TNAndy »

jez251

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2012, 09:36:01 AM »
Hi TNAndy,

Thanks for the detailed info and congratulations on your first experience growing papaya. It seems you did a really good job growing it in TN.

Jaime

lkailburn

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2012, 10:17:39 AM »
Wow congrats indeed! How large was the plant when you brought it in for the winter? Post up some photos if you have any. Gives me hope of growing my own papaya in a cold climate.

-Luke

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2012, 10:27:01 AM »
Doing great for Tennessee. I see clumps of bananas that get cut down to ground level most winters in Northern Florida. Perhaps you could plant bananas, cut them down when it gets cold, then heap some manure and straw on the root bases to keep them warm in the winter. Then have bananas come back each spring. Eventually the clump would give you some bananas as the root mass gets larger. Just my theory

Tropicdude

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2012, 11:44:23 AM »
I have never tried the TR Hovey papaya,  so I cannot say for certain if the sweetness is normal, what i do know is that the commercial hybrids like Red Lady for example have the highest Brix. compared to non hybrids like Red Maradol,   but even red Maradol has pretty good sweetness.

Even the same variety may have different Brix levels depending on location, irrigation,  fertilizer, Sun exposure, and even season.  so many factors can change the sugar levels.   Normally you want to give your tree full sun, and once its fruiting,  hold back some on the nitrogen fertilizer, do not over water.
the tree will die if you have them in standing water for as little as a few hours.

Congratz on your first homegrown papaya.

Here is how we make the Papaya Milkshake / Smoothie at our house.
Papaya Milkshake


You can substitute the sugar for any other sweetener you prefer, adjust for your taste.
sometimes we add less sugar but add some evaporated milk.
William
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TNAndy

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2012, 11:49:38 AM »
Wow congrats indeed! How large was the plant when you brought it in for the winter? Post up some photos if you have any. Gives me hope of growing my own papaya in a cold climate.

-Luke

Thanks.  I'd say it was a little less than three feet tall when I brought it in.  Add two more feet for the half-whisky-barrel liner and the casters mounted underneath.

Let's see if I can upload photos....  That's odd.  Why does it give me two of the same image?  Maybe that's just during editing....  Nope.  Delete the extras yourself....




The top picture is of the two remaining fruit on the tree.  The bottom picture is of the half of the fruit my wife tasted.  The photo makes it look like an apple left out too long.  This discoloration only appears in the picture, not on the fruit.

Doing great for Tennessee. I see clumps of bananas that get cut down to ground level most winters in Northern Florida. Perhaps you could plant bananas, cut them down when it gets cold, then heap some manure and straw on the root bases to keep them warm in the winter. Then have bananas come back each spring. Eventually the clump would give you some bananas as the root mass gets larger. Just my theory


I'm only interested in growing bananas that produce sweet, edible fruit.  I used to have two Dwarf Red Jamaican banana plants, but they kept getting too tall for my sunroom.  If I repotted a pup in the spring, it would still be small enough to bring inside for that winter, but over the following summer, it would always grow too large to bring inside the next year.  In other words, I could keep them for a year and a half at most.  From what I've read on the internet, Dwarf Red Jamaican takes at least two years to bloom in a container.  I suspect your theory would regenerate banana plants each spring, but in a single growing season, they'd never have enough time to flower.  I got rid of the Dwarf Reds.

Now I have a Super Dwarf Cavendish in another half-whisky-barrel liner.  The pseudo stem is supposed to only grow four feet tall, which should fit indoors--barely.  If the dwarf variety takes two years to bloom in a container, I've got nine more months to wait.  Again, from what I read, flowering is not a sure thing.

jez251

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Variety variation
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2012, 11:51:42 AM »
Even the same variety may have different Brix levels depending on location, irrigation,  fertilizer, Sun exposure, and even season.  so many factors can change the sugar levels.

The above statement makes me wonder about how a variety's optimal characteristics can ever really be known. If a known variety is said to be sweet and dry, and then someone grows it and finds them to be average-tasting and juicy because of their local conditions. Or vice versa, if you get a great-tasting fruit out of a variety considered to be not very good.

What do you all think?
Jaime

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Re: Variety variation
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2012, 12:17:53 PM »
Even the same variety may have different Brix levels depending on location, irrigation,  fertilizer, Sun exposure, and even season.  so many factors can change the sugar levels.

The above statement makes me wonder about how a variety's optimal characteristics can ever really be known. If a known variety is said to be sweet and dry, and then someone grows it and finds them to be average-tasting and juicy because of their local conditions. Or vice versa, if you get a great-tasting fruit out of a variety considered to be not very good.

What do you all think?
Jaime

All things being equal , there is a difference between varieties.

 We find the same thing happening with mangoes,that are the same variety,  but in two locations and different cultivation techniques will give you fruit that are a bit different in taste and productivity, and these are in effect clones, unlike papaya from seeds.

lets just put it this way, If you give your papaya tree optimum conditions for producing sweet fruit, you will reach the genetic potential for that variety, whatever that variety might be.

And brix is not the end all of quality, texture, and flavor are also important.

Some folks are turned off by the musky smell of the "Mexican" Red Maradols, not a problem for me as I only consume papaya in shakes.   ( I like them dehydrated also ).  The hybrids seem to have less aroma.

The Non hybrids will become increasingly harder to find, due to the problem with PRSV disease.  The hybrids have some tolerance at least, and farmers are switching to those now.

By the way, don't confuse Hybrids with GMO papaya.  stay away from GMO anything.   I believe that the problem with PRSV can be resolved by breeding resistance the traditional way.
William
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Tim

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2012, 12:49:08 PM »
I didn't so much mind the smell of Maradols in previous years until last. Tried dehydrating one and turned my house into a sh**ty mess, that barf smell intensified and lingered for weeks ... I've been Maradol-free since  ;D

...Some folks are turned off by the musky smell of the "Mexican" Red Maradols, not a problem for me as I only consume papaya in shakes.   ( I like them dehydrated also ).  The hybrids seem to have less aroma...
Tim

TNAndy

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2012, 01:32:21 PM »
Even the same variety may have different Brix levels depending on location, irrigation,  fertilizer, Sun exposure, and even season.  so many factors can change the sugar levels.

The above statement makes me wonder about how a variety's optimal characteristics can ever really be known. If a known variety is said to be sweet and dry, and then someone grows it and finds them to be average-tasting and juicy because of their local conditions. Or vice versa, if you get a great-tasting fruit out of a variety considered to be not very good.

What do you all think?
Jaime
I don't think it matters.  All I'm interested in is producing the best tasting and largest quantity of fruit I can... HERE.  That's why I wrote this report describing my successful experiment with papaya, describing as many growing conditions as practical.  I can get fruit grown in optimal conditions at the grocery store or online.

For all of my tropicals, my first consideration is whether I can fit the plant under the glass ceiling of my sunroom over the winter.  My second is getting the plant to set tasty fruit.  The optimal growing conditions don't matter to me.  My local conditions are the only ones I have access to.  If the plant fails to thrive, overgrows the ceiling height, or doesn't set tasty fruit, I dump it and try another cultivar of this fruit or some other plant entirely.  I ought to report on my experiments that fail, too.

Over time, selective breeding will overcome optimal conditions.  For example, modern corn bears little resemblance to the wild plant the Native Americans discovered however many thousands of years ago.  Now, we have sweet corn, dent corn, popcorn, you name it.  There are cultivars of each that grow in overlapping ranges wherever the frost permits.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2012, 01:34:10 PM by TNAndy »

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2012, 07:46:42 AM »
Hey TNAndy, I find your experience very interesting.
Our climate is somewhat similiar (i have a climate marginally hotter than Chattanooga, in winter at least) so i think that on some degree, your experience can be useful to me.
I'm thinking about growing papayas as a vegetable since a couple of years. Basically i would like to grow in indoor during winter, and plant it outside during summer, and let it die on the next winter. And repeat this process every year, once i manage to understand the correct timing. My hope is that, if i get a flowering plant  by the time i plant it out, it can mature some fruits before the next winter kill it (much like we do with peppers). So i'd like to ask you some things;
1) How low has the minimun temperature been, in your sunroom?
2) How big was you plant when it first flowered?
3) How long did your fruit take from flowering to maturity?
4) Did you notice any problem transplanting yout plant?
Thank you. This year i have experiemented with a papaya myself and apparetly they can grow nicely in my soil, at least from may till september/october.
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TNAndy

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2012, 02:43:21 PM »
Hey TNAndy, I find your experience very interesting.
Our climate is somewhat similiar (i have a climate marginally hotter than Chattanooga, in winter at least) so i think that on some degree, your experience can be useful to me.
I'm thinking about growing papayas as a vegetable since a couple of years. Basically i would like to grow in indoor during winter, and plant it outside during summer, and let it die on the next winter. And repeat this process every year, once i manage to understand the correct timing. My hope is that, if i get a flowering plant  by the time i plant it out, it can mature some fruits before the next winter kill it (much like we do with peppers). So i'd like to ask you some things;
1) How low has the minimun temperature been, in your sunroom?
2) How big was you plant when it first flowered?
3) How long did your fruit take from flowering to maturity?
4) Did you notice any problem transplanting yout plant?
Thank you. This year i have experiemented with a papaya myself and apparetly they can grow nicely in my soil, at least from may till september/october.

1) On the coldest winter nights my sunroom gets down to the lower 40's F./upper single digits Celsius.  That's a guess.  Most of my plants go dormant.  You can easily see how tall my papaya was last winter from the crowded leaf scars on the trunk.
2) The lowest fruit scar is 29 inches/0.75 meter from the soil level.  It had flowered before that, but those early flowers fell off.
3) Sorry, I didn't take notes.  It flowered last fall and I picked the first fruit on August 6.  IIRC, it was about 3 inches/8 cm tall when I bought it on June 23, 2011.
4) No, not that I recall.

It has been about a week since I planted some of the seeds from that first fruit.  I'll try to report when they sprout.

Pancrazio

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2012, 03:06:58 PM »
Thank you, you have been very kind.
During summer i have grown this plant in the ground, to see how papayas do in my ground.



(I putted there my cell phone for comparison)
Now, i think i'll just let it die, because i don't see many chances to transplant it in a pot and keep it alive.
Too bad my grenhouses are a little colder than your sunroom, the temperature i can consistently keep there for my plants is just a couple of degree celsius above the zero (I'm speaking of absolute minimums here). So i think that if i ever will be able to grow papayas, i'll be forced to keep them alive indoor, unless they are a bit more cold tolerant tha in expect.

I'll read your next reports with great interest.
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NewGen

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2012, 03:57:11 PM »
Thanks TNAndy for the post,
I'm very much looking forward to getting my 1st papaya. As seen in the photos below, I got these 2 in January 2012, and kept them inside my garage (with a ghetto greenhouse, heated by a growing light) until the weather warmed up in May 2012, then I up-potted them. Today, the taller one is at about 5', the other one a little shorter. They should be the same height, but I accidentally delayed the growth of the shorter one. I was going to plant them in the ground, but the roots grew out of the drain holes in to the soil below already, so I didn't want to disturb them.  Do you think I can expect to get any fruit this year?





TNAndy

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2012, 11:24:14 AM »
Thanks TNAndy for the post,
I'm very much looking forward to getting my 1st papaya. As seen in the photos below, I got these 2 in January 2012, and kept them inside my garage (with a ghetto greenhouse, heated by a growing light) until the weather warmed up in May 2012, then I up-potted them. Today, the taller one is at about 5', the other one a little shorter. They should be the same height, but I accidentally delayed the growth of the shorter one. I was going to plant them in the ground, but the roots grew out of the drain holes in to the soil below already, so I didn't want to disturb them.  Do you think I can expect to get any fruit this year?

Keep in mind this was my FIRST homegrown papaya fruit, so I am far from being an expert.

That being said, your plants don't look like mine.  1) TR Hovey is a dwarf plant.  2) I potted my plant in a 24 inch/60 cm diameter half-whisky-barrel liner.  3) I put my papaya in the best full-sun spot on my driveway where it will get the maximum light possible at noon.  4) From flower to ripe fruit took my plant 9 months.  It was dormant for at least a couple of months during the winter.

I seriously doubt you will get any RIPE fruit this year.  Good luck.

MangoFang

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2012, 05:50:42 PM »
Thanks TNA for the Post - I've got a couple TR Hovey's in the ground here in Palm Springs - planted in the ground  around Feb. of this year and they're about 2 1/2 feet tall now.  And yeah, they came in those tiny pots that you were talking about.  I'm looking forward to keeping them alive over winter and seeing how they produce next year!

My large 2 year old Mexican Papaya's fruit turned rubbery in this late spring and early summer heat, or maybe they didnt' get enough water - the ones that ripened earlier in the year seemed better.  I'll have to see how it all goes - also have some 6" Strawberrya and Caribbean Red Papaya growing, which I think are dwarf(ish) too....just looking for the best tasting ones as you say.

Kudos for your success!


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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2012, 05:23:34 AM »
TNAndy, I hope you're still watching this thread.  I'd like to know how often you watered your papaya plants when they were indoors over the winter, especially in the coldest months.  This is important for me, I can't figure out if I'm killing my papayas by underwatering them or watering them at all.  I have them (they are still small) on heat mats and under grow lights...but when the room is cold (45F to 55F at night) the heat mats (cheapo do it yourself ones) can't get the soil temps above 60F-65F.  Your sunroom example gives me the idea to put some of my outdoor (container) papayas (still only 1.5ft tall) indoor on the floor where they'll benefit from the grow lights spillover and hopefully survive the winter that way.  I might even try putting a spare heat mat under them if I can figure out the effect it'll have on my electric bill.  But I think how to water is going to be the key to survivability.

John

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2012, 01:15:57 PM »
...
I have them (they are still small) on heat mats and under grow lights...but when the room is cold (45F to 55F at night) the heat mats (cheapo do it yourself ones) can't get the soil temps above 60F-65F.
...

John,

You can increase the soil temperature by insulating the pots on top of your heat mat.  I'd suggest wrapping the sides of the pots with closed-cell foam or bubble wrap, and possibly adding a 1-2" layer of mulch to the top of the pots.   If you can keep the soil warm, you don't have to be quite as careful with watering, but mulch on top may make it harder to see when the plants need water.

   Kevin

jbclem

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Re: I tasted my first homegrown papaya today
« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2012, 06:10:29 AM »
What I'm doing to warm up my grow light plants in the winter...I have 4' T-5 fluorescent fixtures, 4 bulbs in each.  They're wide enough so I can hang some heavy plastic all the way around each fixture, down to below the edge of the base (that holds the plants).  That makes a mini greenhouse and there is enough heat from the T-5 bulbs and heat mat(s) to kick up the soil temperature, at least 5 degrees F more in the winter..  In the summer if it gets too hot, I just lift up one side of the plastic and pin it to the light chains, and of course the heat mat thermostat keeps the heat mat off a lot of the time.  In the warm months, I try to keep the soil temp from going over 85F, and except for the really hot days/weeks, it's usually around 80F.  The room I'm using is semi-basement, opening up to the afternoon sun, but it's 15-20 degrees cooler than the upstairs (in the summer)...so even the T-5 bulbs are providing enough heat to make a difference.

 

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