Thursday, August 22, 2013

92. Pineapples

According to the horticulture department at Purdue University, pineapples prefer a "well-drained, sandy loam soil with a high content of organic matter" that should be "friable for a depth of at least two feet" with a "pH between 4.5 to 6.5"  (Pineapple.  Morton, J.  1987)

And while I'm absolutely sure that that is true, the pineapples and pineapple farmers in Mozambique seem to be chugging along just fine in the soil that they've got. Dan and I found these little critters growing in two inches of crusty sand, tucked within a crevice on a rock dome in the mountains.  

Happy baby pineapple...
...Growing in the sand

As far as fruits go, pineapples are a rather ridiculous fruit.  First of all, they develop painstakingly slowly.  It takes about 15-22 months to grow an edible pineapple, and that's starting with a nice, healthy pineapple-top starter.  And, unlike normal fruits, the pineapple doesn't grow in bunches or clumps or in hanging pods of flesh.  No.  The pineapple fruit grows one-at-a-time at the tip-top center of the pineapple bush.  The resulting creation looks more like a child's drawing of a pineapple than an actual, living plant.

And because pineapples are comparatively expensive in Mozambique (between 15 and 60 cents each), and because they grow so slowly and bear fruit in such an obvious manner, they are a highly enticing target for thieves.

Perhaps that's why this crop of pineapples was hidden so deep in the mountains.  

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