Question Papayas

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by Bea, Jan 21, 2018.

  1. Bea

    Bea Active Member Premium Member

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    I do see several references to papayas but only little bits here and there inside a larger category. I want some advice about papayas - period.
    First, I had a large plant growing that produced a lot of fruit and then it fell over - fortunately against a wall and too high to destroy a big leafy plant - of some kind. It was during the rainy season and I am wondering if it got too much water. The ground around the trunk still dried out and I watered it. The roots didnt look rotten, but while it was laying on the ground waiting for me to hack it up for compost, the trunk was rotting in spots.
    Second, not all the fruit lasted to maturity and quite a few hit the ground while the trunk was still up right.
    Third, from the few remaining fruit that werent edible I pulled the seeds and dried them
    Fourth, I planted a few of these seeds and most came up then died.
    Last, one papaya is growing in each of two veg bins. I uprooted one and planted it in a bit of a mound and is no0t doing well. I dont want to sacrifice a veg bin to a papaya but am afraid to transplant it. it is now about 18 inches tall/
    so I would like some thought on what happened to the first plant, the transplant and seedlings, and what now?gracias
     
  2. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    So by now you will have worked out that pawpaws can be finicky to say the least.
    They like rich, freshly composted, well drained, sandy or gravelly slightly soil low in clay content & high in calcium.
    They enjoy having the raw compost thrown directly over their root area as they will send up rootlets to feed directly off the decomposing scraps. Don't apply too much rich manure such as chicken or pig. Fresh cow, horse, sheep manure, etc is fine so long as there is also a lot of vegie scraps with it.
    They don't like wet feet but need a LOT of water or moist feeding which is why they love the vegie scraps.
    They love to live on the edge of the toilet outfall or grey water overflow or on steep slopes in high rainfall areas.
    They are susceptible to various fungal & bacterial infections & can die at the drop of a hat.

    Once they get something it is hard to pull them back into health.
    Best to have several growing & just replace them as they get sick or die.
    Only save seed from your best fruit! When you cut a fruit, if it is the most delectable, then save a few seeds.
    Most seeds that come up will be males unfortunately. But you have to let them grow to first flowering to discover whether they are males or females.

    There is a train of thought that seeds should be planted in groups. The males come up first & are the strongest seedlings so they protect the smaller weaker slower growing females. As the group of plants grow up, the males fight it out for supremacy all the while staying just above the females to provide shade & pollination.
    Bananas are a good companion plant.

    The alternative to that is to have bisexual trees but I don't think they grow from their own seeds, that is 'true to form'. I think they have to be commercially cross bred to get good fruiting varieties.

    Red pawpaws are far nicer than the normal yellows but sometimes only the old fashioned yellows will grow in a particular area. However they are generally more susceptible to disease.

    Pawpaws have a tap root, so hate being transplanted & also generally hate root disturbance.

    To grow from seed, mix the seeds into some fresh compost of barely decomposed fruit & veg scraps combines with some potting mix or wet coconut coir & fill a 2gal/9lt bucket with the compost with the seeds mixed right through. They prefer to have to push up through 7-10cm of light compost. Don't be tempted to place the seeds near the surface like planting normal seeds as they will fail. Keep the bucket dark & moist(ish) but don't water from above, just make sure the compost is well moist first.
    The seeds will germinate within a couple weeks generally. If they haven't, tip that compost into your compost bin & start again as the gnat flies will have moved in by then anyway.

    Once the seedlings are 10 to 20cm tall carefully lay the bucket on its side & gently scoop out the seedlings one by one taking a whole double handful of compost with each seedling so as not to disturb the roots. I form my hands into a cupped prayer shape & push my fingers down on both sides of the seedling to hold the compost between my hands then pull my hands straight up out of the mix & place down into the new pot without disturbing the roots at all.

    You will see that the seeds have germinated from well deep within the bucket. It is important when you transplant to keep the compost up around the stem to the same depth when transplanting. Roots will emerge from that part of the stem in time. If you leave that part of the stem exposed, the seedling will probably die.
    Carefully drop the compost ball into a small pot that has some potting mix in the bottom & set the group of pots (each with only one seedling in it) in the shade to recover for a few days until they are standing up again. Don't tamp them down yet!
    Some will die.

    Then progressively give them more sun each day. I don't water the compost from above, I stand the pots in a shallow tray of extremely weak liquid fertilizer & allow the mix to draw the water up as needed & top up the water every couple days, allowing the compost to remain as air filled as possible.
    Before the pawpaws have filled that pot with roots, it is time to plant them out into the ground.
    Again the transplanting must be done very carefully to not disturb the root ball. Also you don't want the plant to stay in its little pot for too long so the tap root & side roots don't grow twisted or crimped as that will prevent the tree from having good support as it grows.
    They are very top heavy which is why they have the type of root system they have.

    Regarding your 18inch high seedling Bea, if you can get the root ball out in one lump without disturbing or exposing the roots then you might succeed at transplanting it.
    I have done that before with success, but then once it flowered it was male anyway so it had to go. :(

    I hope that has answered your questions so far Bea.
     
  3. Bea

    Bea Active Member Premium Member

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    Lo siento. I forgot to get back to you. Excellent info. mucho gracias. i will be looking at your rec.s starting next week.
     

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