The behemoth leaves of the papaya plant can be spotted even from a distance. This plant has a bright, aesthetic appearance for the lack of a bark and innumerable protrusions with flowers extending from the trunk.
But despite its vibrant beauty and myriad health benefits, growing the plant is often considered a herculean task. This is because to keep it thriving, one has to pay attention to detail and display patience before the harvesting months.
However, Kolkata-based gardening expert Santosh Mohta reveals that once a tree is planted, you can obtain up to 50 kg of fruit from it upon good care.
This fruit, usually bought from local stores, is rich in fibre and water content. It is also a great source of vitamin A, B, C, and K and several minerals.
Santosh has his own papaya plant growing at his home, and shares from experience that the homegrown fruit tastes much sweeter than the commercially bought one. But he says that these fruits available in the market can be used to grow the first plant in your garden.
Things you need:
- Pot or Grow Bag: The large size of the papaya plant requires a proportionately large pot to grow. According to Santosh, if a large pot feels heavy, one can opt for a 24 to 30-inch grow bag.
- Soil Preparation: Prepare a soil mix for the plant by using equal quantities of cocopeat, normal garden soil, vermicompost or home compost and cow dung. Ensure that the soil is light and friable, allowing easy drainage of water. Santosh says that any amount of stagnating water can kill your plant.
- Seeds: This is where the store-bought fruit comes in. Put the seeds that you find in the papaya fruit into a bowl full of water. Only those seeds that settle at the base are to be used for growing the plant.
The planting process:
- Prepare the potting mix and plant all the picked out seeds in it a short distance apart. This is to be done in a small container or seedling tray.
- Create a top layer of soil and sprinkle water on it. In about 10 days you will begin to see saplings growing out of the soil.
- Once four to five leaves have appeared, it’s time to move the plant to a larger pot. Plant only one plant in a pot.
- Set up a proper drainage system by aerating the soil in the grow bag or pot you use.
- Keep the pot in a place with abundant sunlight. Water the plant every day, leaving one day every now and then.
- You can also sprinkle neem cakes to avoid attracting insects on the plant.
- Keep adding little cow dung manure to your plant every month. Also, add compost when it’s time to fruit.
“Since this plant needs ample sunlight to grow, the months of March or April are the best time to plant papaya. Your plant will be ready in 8 to 10 months and as soon as winter comes, fruits will start growing in it,” says Santosh.
For more information, you can contact Santosh Mohta at his Facebook page.
Read this story in Hindi here.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)