Sunday, 26 March 2017

Harumanis Seedling... New Mango First Fruit

It is certainly an exciting time when a young tree produces its first fruit. So, it has been for us…

Over the past three weeks, we have enjoyed the delicious mangoes from our original Maha Chanok Seedling mango tree, and we continue to pick its luscious produce. At the same time, however, in the third week of March, we picked the first fruit from our Harumanis Seedling tree: just one, about 550-gram fragrant green fruit.

Green, its skin may have been. Yet, with just a couple of days of indoor ripening, it was ready to consume. Sweet. Juicy. Flavourful. And still green!

Ready to eat... Fragrant, the green skin colour 'yellowed' slightly, the white lenticels prominent
Deep orange-coloured flesh

Polyembryonic Seed. Note the segmentation

The tree was grown from a kitchen-filling aromatic fruit given to us by a close friend. The polyembryonic seed was sprouted in February 2013, and the seedling tree was planted into position the following spring. Following its first flowers in October last year, we have been delivered a first fruit from this sturdy little tree. 

The Harumanis Seedling grows strongly, and I suspect that it will require regular pruning to keep it in bounds

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

First of Our Season: Seedling Mangoes

Our local Sydney stores are draining of succulent mangoes. Home gardeners have plucked their bounty of famous Kensington Prides, while the last of the KPs in the shops are super expensive. There are still some Keitt mangoes for sale, as well as the Brooks variety, which is the latest maturing commercial variety in Australia. Essentially, the end of the mango season is nigh for another year.

A pair of late season Brooks mangoes

How lucky are we then to have luscious home-grown mangoes at season’s end? Our bounty is just beginning…

Over the past two weeks, we have harvested the first of this season’s crop from our Maha Chanok Seedling tree. In its third fruiting year, the small, head-height tree holds ten mangoes: two small fruit, the rest are absolute thumpers, our first two fruits weighing above one kilo! Each!

Luckily, there are three of us to consume these monsters… a mango face each for two lucky householders while the third person gets to munch on the abundant flesh around the super-thin seed. Mildly aromatic, fibre-free, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth… Mmm!

1.2 kilos... Dessert for three!
Because of its over-sized, sensationally-sweet fruit, our seedling Maha Chanok has become the supreme tree of our small suburban garden. A risky experiment turned highly successful! But why?

Across the internet, there is a lot of ‘bad press’ about growing seedling mango trees. Some of this ‘bad press’ emanates from the belief that seedling mangoes take many more years to fruit than their grafted cousins. This, however, is not our experience, having grown three seedling mangoes in this garden, all of which have begun to bear first fruits in the third year after planting.

Another bone of contention is related to the type of seed.

Some mango varieties produce seeds with more than one embryo (polyembryonic). Many of the Asian mangoes, as well as Kensington Pride, produce polyembryonic seeds, which will generally grow more than one seedling shoot, most of which are true-to-type. This means that if you plant a Kensington Pride seed, the chances are that the resultant seedling tree will also be a Kensington Pride.

Other mango varieties produce seeds with a single embryo (monoembryonic). Monoembryonic mangoes will produce a single seedling bearing the characteristics of two parent trees. Herein lies the problem… the seedling will differ, in some ways, from the original mango.

But is this a bad thing?

Growing mangoes from the seeds of monoembryonic varieties can be risky for the backyard gardener. Obviously, you will know the mango cultivar from which you extracted the seed. But will you know the other parent pollinator? With limited space in a home garden, does one want to grow an inferior mango?

However, growing a monoembryonic seedling does not guarantee an inferior tree: it is just one of many possibilities, including perhaps, growing a superior tree.

The super thin seed shuck of the Maha Chanok seedling

A typical monoembryonic mango seed

Maha Chanok is a monoembryonic Thai mango variety. Our seedling tree is not genuine Maha Chanok. It has the growth habit, the fruit colour, the flavour and eating quality of its famed parent, but differs in the fruit size and shape.  Despite its differences, it is wonderful in its own right: a mango which simply cannot be purchased in a shop. A talking point… and a very tasty, exotic talking point at that!

More to come...

Now, we await our next experimental seedling. This is another monoembryonic mango, the American variety, Kent. At the moment, it stands happily and proudly in a large pot, and I suspect that it will have its first flowers in October. Here’s to the progeny…

Standing with it potted friends
So, is the planting of a seedling mango worth the risk to you? It certainly has been for us!

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Entopia Penang… Butterfly Haven

Entopia, formerly the Penang Butterfly Farm, is an interesting and educational attraction. Located at the northern end of Penang Island, near the small township of Teluk Bahang, Entopia can be reached by bus from Georgetown for a few ringgit, if you do not have access to a hire car. Local tours can also be arranged, but ensure that these allow you sufficient time to explore this fascinating establishment.

Tickets to the complex are expensive by Malaysian standards, but, upon entry, one can see that the fee is merited: the complex was newly renovated in May 2016 and is very, very impressive. 

One follows a beautiful trail of water features and tropical flowering shrubs from many parts of the world to see the multitude of fluttering colour attracted to these feeder plants.

Yellow Glassy Tiger feeding

The trail is well-signposted with guides to both the flowering plants and local butterflies.

A Guide to the Tiger Family of Butterflies
Butterflies attracted by Hibiscus blooms on a butterfly-shaped stand

In addition to the comprehensive display of Southeast Asian butterflies, Entopia also has some enclosures of frogs and reptiles and a display of Malaysian dragonflies and other bugs, even a bird or two. Furthermore, there are educational activities and displays suitable for children... and for the young-at-heart.

For those who will drive to the complex there is ample parking… and perhaps, the seller of delicious red rambutan will be waiting for you, adjacent to the front gate.

Below are some images of the beautiful residents of Entopia...

Tree Nymph

Green Banded Swallowtail
Great Orange Tip
Great Mormon
The Chocolate Albatrosses were in abundance feeding upon potted flowering shrubs
Common Bluebottle

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…