A Quenepas Tree? Why Not?

In the tradition of trying to germinate and grow a tree, plant, root, or rhizome from everything I eat, yesterday, I planted a handful of quenepas pits in sterile soil, watered them, put the pot under a glass cloche, and placed it in the sun.

A friend shared some fresh quenepas (which I first had had while in Jamaica years ago), and of course, I hogged them. Quenepas are a delicious and sugary fruit native to tropical climates like Jamaica and Puerto Rico. There’s more pit than fruit in each quenepa, but the flesh is super sweet and totally worth the work.

I think the last thing we need this winter is another tropical tree in the house, but let’s get real about this: if you hand me a tropical fruit, I’m going to eat it, then plant the pit or seed. You may be sure of it.

Quenepas are particularly hard to grow the further you move away from the equator. This is a heat-loving tree that thrives in the consistently hot, frost-free, wet season/dry season, small solar-angle climate of the tropics.

Even if these pits germinate and grow, I don’t dare hope for fresh quenepas down the line. But let’s get real again: I’m a certified master gardener/certified plant geek, a fan of weird and exotic trees and plants, and I have no problem making room for another outside in summer and inside in winter.

And there’s no point in trying to duplicate a tropical climate for quenepas, or our papaya tree, lemon tree, mango trees, avocado trees, pandan, turmeric, or ginger plants. The best any gardener in Connecticut’s humid, continental climate can hope for is to keep them comfortable enough to stay alive. Which is why I keep looking at real estate in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Hilo.

This morning’s breakfast was a banana-turmeric smoothie followed by a just-picked green pepper from our gardens. I’m going to miss summer. There’s no other time of year when I can munch insanely fresh garden veggies for breakfast.

This morning, I noticed slight color changes in the leaves of a maple tree. Boo. This is when we start seeing the smallest indications that Mother Earth is responding to the shortening days. In a few weeks, these changes start gaining real traction: the crowns of maple trees will turn orange and red, the peepers will begin to quiet down, and some idiot will bring pumpkin latte to work. Pumpkin-flavored coffee is swill.

In the meantime, and hopefully, the quenepas pits will start to stir. It’s not the best time to start the pits (better in early summer, when they can spend the warm months getting big and strong), but I plan to save some of the pits for planting next spring. I don’t know the shelf life of quenepas pits, but let’s give this a try and see where it goes. It’s all an adventure. It’s all a blessing. Plants make life a lot more interesting.

Much love,
Barbie xo

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