John McDonald

Blogging about politics, life, and the web

Growing pineapple – nature’s buy one get one free

May 19th, 2010

Just allow 20 to 24 months processing in warm sun and rich soil

Pineapple is great, but if you’re buying the pre-sliced stuff you’re probably spending as much as $4 a pound!  Now don’t get me wrong:  I’m not saying it isn’t worth $4 a pound, just emphasizing the fact that you can get a whole lot more for a whole lot less. Specifically, the last pineapple I got was about 5 pounds for that same $4, and even after tossing out the core and skin, there was probably more than three pounds of really good fruit left over. Enough for two (gluten-free) pizzas, countless snacks, and even some pineapple iced tea.

As I’ve recently learned, the first step to getting the most out of your pineapple investment is to buy the whole fruit – skin spikes & bladed leaves & all that tough gnarly stuff.  Cutting it really isn’t that bad, but I’m not sure exactly what I would have done in the days before Youtube:

Well, it probably would have been needlessly complicated and messy!

Two for one: Turning the left over top in to a new pineapple

If you want to take the next step and double your pineapple per dollar, then you’ll want to make one exception from the video above. Instead of chopping off the leaves with the top of the fruit’s skin, grab the leaves by the base and twist them right off. If any fruit tags along, just kind of gently scrape it out.

The next step is to peel back some of the lower layers of leaves. The plant’s stalk will form roots in water – but the leaves and fruit are vulnerable to rotting. Basically, expose a bit of stem that can be safely suspended in a glass of water without getting any of the still attached leaves wet. Now, just give it a couple days to dry out before actually placing it in to the water. Even with the precautions, the other leaves could go moldy just from the humidity of a nearby water source, so keep an eye on them from time to time even though it can take weeks for the roots to really develop. Remember, don’t rush it! Pineapple takes as long as two years to ripen up to its full potential, so there’s no sense in skipping steps for the hope of saving a day or two.

When the roots set in, you’re ready to move the new plant to a pot. The key during this phase is kind of similar to the last one: beware of excess moisture and be on the lookout for any signs of rot or fungal infection. After a few months in the new pot, new leaf growth will be seen and the old leaves will finally wither and turn brown. Don’t worry – its a good thing!

No frost – no rot

The two keys here are a warm temperature and a soil that strikes the balance between slightly damp without being too soggy. If you see mud or puddles anywhere near the pineapple, its too wet!

Most people also like to grow the pineapples in a pot so that it can be brought inside during the winter.  Other than excess water, the quickest way to kill one of these tropical delicacies is to leave them out in a single frost.  Otherwise, they’ll probably be fine spending a few months indoors each year – just put them near a window that points toward the equator.

So really, that is all it takes:  some sun, a little water (but not too much), and a good dose of patience.

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