I know, I know, it’s the year of the horse. But could 2014 be the year that our dragonfruit plant finally does the business? Half a decade we’ve had it in a pot in the sunniest part of the garden, and while it did produce this gorgeous flower for my 40th birthday, that’s been it. Not a single piece of fruit.
I figured Sydney was just not hot enough, but gardening pro Juke reckons if I treat them right, I should be in business. I’ve been guilty of botanical stereotyping: pitaya looks like a cactus but apparently it should be treated like a moisture loving tropical epiphyte.
So, with a tremendous amount of cursing and significant perforations in the gardening gloves, it’s out of the constraining plastic pot and into the ground by the sunny back fence. I’m not psychologically ready to build a heavy duty trellis (and given that various tipsy bits of paling on the yard’s perimeter are held in place by running bamboo and optimism, if I was quick on the draw with the cement I would have to have other priorities). So I’m hoping the dragonfruit can cope at least for the moment with jerry rigged temporary supports and the odd bit of string.
There’s not many problems in life that can’t be fixed by chicken manure, spoiled hay and weekly deep watering. The chooks’ bedding seems to be working well for the stupendously fast growing Eureka lemon and the small but fecund Freemont mandarin, so fingers crossed their new neighbour will respond to the same treatment. I’m also trying to grow Kipfler potatoes at the feet of the citrus using the same basic recipe. It will either be a triumph or a multi-species nitrogen-burn-off.
Juke’s dragonfruit expert thinks that a cutback before the flowering season’s not a bad thing. With the kids’ school fair only three weeks away and the plant stall trestle tables to fill, I’m cloning like the wind. The chunks I had to hack off (literally, with a saw – it was surgeon-barber barbarity) have been unceremoniously dumped in pots, with the price-tag as yet to be determined.
Dragonfruit vines seems to be a bit like tetris pieces. They don’t seem to have obvious “up” or “down” bits. In their natural habitat they apparently grow aerial roots from pretty much anywhere so with luck my primitively executed cuttings will take. I’m hoping the prospect of home-grown dragonfruit will shift units, however implausibly shaped those units might be.