Papayas and Gritty

rwave(9)April 13, 2012

First post, kindness appreciated. lol

Have gardened for many years; dirt, hydroponics and container. Because I can grow most anything here in SoCal, I try to do just that with less common plants.

For the last three years, I have successfully grown papayas in containers, planting seeds in the late winter/early spring. These are fast growers, reaching 4-5 feet by early fall, when they begin to flower and finally indicate whether male, female or hermaphrodite. Males and females are then discarded. Over the cold/wet winter, the roots rot and . . . r.i.p.

The plan is to get the plants to overwinter one season and harvest fruit the following year, remove the plant and start over. Hence, each plant will be container grown for less than 2 years and then replaced. The greenhouse I am building should help in my attempt to overwinter the plants.

Prior to finding this forum and Al's gritty mix, I had made my own "tropical" mix which consisted of sand, coco and pumice in a 1-2-3 ratio. The plants were fed Osmocote Plus and the container was a 15-gal "Root Pot" (aka Smart Pot, Camo Pot, Dirt Bag, etc). Growth was fantastic!

Although my "tropical" mix was not optimum (components or size), I suspect the fabric pot used minimized/eliminated any PWT, due to it being a giant wick; water retention was never an issue.

Now, I want to play with a gritty variation, without the organics. I'm thinking of screening (1/8" - 1/4") granite, pumice and Turface MVP. Not sure of the ratio (maybe 2-2-1) as wet roots are serious problems for papayas.

Comments/suggestions are much appreciated!

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