Oh where! Oh where is my Carica Papaya?

Oh where! Oh where  is my Carica Papaya?

“Going green is nice,  but when others are quick to harvest the fruits of your papaya tree.. it’s not nice.” – phwriter11

PLANT NAME: Carica papaya L. 

Carica Papaya
Carica Papaya

COMMON NAMES: Mïkana, hë’ï [Hawai’i]; papaya [English]; papaw [Eclectics]; mamaeiro (plant), mamao (fruit) [Brazil]; ababaï [Caribbean]; fruta de bomba [Cuba]; esi[Samoa]; lesi [Tonga]; ‘I’ita [Tahiti]; weleti [Fiji]; nita [Cook Islands].


Papaya fruit is made into candies, syrup, and numerous beverages. There are 119 calories per papaya. The green fruit is boiled as a vegetable and eaten with limejuice and sugar. The leaves and flower buds are sometimes used as food, but this may be a dangerous practice because of digestive enzymes in the plant. Water used for boiling should be changed numerous times. 

To successfully grow Papayas, you need a frost free climate, lots of sunlight, lots of water and good soil. If you give your plant all of these conditions, then you can grow a papaya from seed and generally have fruit in 6 to 12 months.  

Harvesting:  Generally, fruit is picked when there is 1/5 to 1/3 color change in the fruit. After picking, keep at room temperature to fully ripen. Ripe fruit will keep 4 to 7 days in the refrigerator.

 Both green papaya fruit and the tree’s latex are rich in papain, a protease used for tenderizing meat and other proteins.

 However, the papaya can be a finicky plant… Papayas are easy to grow, but not necessarily so easy to keep alive and get good fruit from. Papaya trees are very, very hungry. That means they need very good soil, rich in organic matter and nutrients. If the weather is warm enough, and if you are growing your papayas in full sun and in good soil, then you could be picking the first ripe fruit within 10 months. 

Young papayas are the most productive. The older a papaya plant gets, the weaker it becomes. It will produce less and smaller fruit, and it may get problems with diseases. Also, because the plants keep growing taller it gets harder to reach the fruit.

Papayas fruit all year round, as long as the weather is warm enough. Keep them happy and they will keep fruiting. Just keep planting more. Put in another patch every few months. That way you always have some healthy and productive plants around, and you don’t need a ladder to pick the fruit. 


Did I mention how I have planted papaya seeds in the vacant lot next to ours? Well, they are now bearing fruits. And it’s nice to see the trees growing taller with its clustered fruits too. My Carica Papaya trees are the dwarf papaya kind. I might admit they are good ones. I would have loved to see them change their color from green to light yellow to orange. But to my dismay, this morning four fruits were gone! Someone was quick to pick and harvest the fruits of my papaya tree.

Last year, we threw some seeds to just let them grow on a vacant lot next to ours, just to see how good the soil is. We wanted to make use of the vacant lot to grow something green.  And it very rewarding to know that the soil is indeed very rich. It has been my survival tree, providing me fruits that I use in my cooking.

However, it’s a little disappointing too. Yes we planted them on a vacant lot, so that makes it open to the unwelcome harvesters. Sad that we don’t have space around the house.  It’s the challenge of growing a tree and having a good harvest. When you have a big tree and bears fruit during the season.. magnifico! And looking up wondering how to harvest those on top.. amazing!

Maybe I should plant more trees, so others can have a papaya party.  Planting good seeds is a good deed. At least I have made some contribution to the “feeding program” in our neighborhood. For now my task is to find an effective way to keep those papaya trees safe from unwelcome harvesters. Any ideas ?


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