But the truly tropical fruits seem too hard. Banana's and mangoes spring easily to mind, and yet it is a pretty well established fact that banana's can be grown here. Yes they take a lot longer to fruit (2 years as opposed to 6 months up north) and they need protecting from frosts if you live in an area of Melbs that gets them. But it can be done.
Why then does it seem such a step to grow a mango? Given the choice between eating a banana and a mango I'll always go for the mango. I love them, but hate the idea of them being trucked thousands of kilometers just for my eating pleasure.
The solution: grow my own.
So began the research. Books offered me little help. But by then I had a pretty healthy scepticism of what gardening books say and what is possible. Of course no commercial mango grower would set up shop this far south, but that didn't mean with careful planning that I could grow a tree. Google searches yielded little info on Melbourne grown mangoes, so I figured I would be the guinea pig. What did I have to lose?
In 2011 I bought a Florigon mango from Daley's Fruit Trees. I like Daley's; they have good descriptions of the plants and a good range of varieties (no kickback for me, I have just found them to be reliable and have bought quite a few plants from them). I chose the Florigon as it was a dwarfing variety (only 5m tall, as opposed to the 30m standard mangoes) and was supposedly able to tolerate a cooler climate.
So far it has been the case. I have mine planted in a protected area next to the house on the heater side, so it would get the benefit of waste heat.
This is the tree back in early 2014, when I had planted zucchini and pumpkins in this bed. As you can see it is to the left of the banana (a dwarf Lady Finger) which, as an aside, is now as tall as the house.
Comparitively the mango has grown very slowly. As I am very aware of the need to keep this plant small (aiming for 2-3m max) given the proximity to the house this is a bonus. I am not too worried as in 4 years of growth it has grown to about 1.5m tall.
The plant gets good morning sun in winter and summer, with good summer sun from morning to early afternoon.
It seems to like its spot, growing lush green foliage each year. It has occasionally had leaves get a bit of frost damage develop some black spots, but mostly is looking pretty good.
I would have liked to plant it where it would get more sun, but this also would have meant a more exposed position with greater potential for frost damage. I erred on the side of caution.
After 2 years in the ground it flowered for the first time.
|Mango in flower|
That year and the following year it flowered and set fruit, but it dropped early.
|Tiny, tiny mangoes|
But this summer it set fruit and one remained.
|First ever mango!!!|
I have been watching this since the fruit set in December. It has stayed persistently green and I was getting to the point of thinking I would have to forgo the ripe mango dreams and instead enjoy a green mango Thai style salad.
|Why are you still green? Ripen, dammit!|
But a couple of weeks ago it started to turn yellow. And today it looked entirely yellow and I couldn't hold off any longer.
Yes, my friends. That is a mango. Grown in Melbourne.
And now, the gratuitous eating shots:
|Look at that! Perfectly ripe.|
|My favourite breakfast: mango and yoghurt.|
Nom. Nom. Nom.