Papaw Growing in your backyard

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Papaya can be successfully grown in the backyard; you need full sun and a frost free site. Well drained soil is important, if the soil is shallow build a metre wide mound 400mm high to plant on. If seedlings are available at your local nursery use them, if not grow from seed until the seedlings are 200mm high. Use a good quality seedling mix and feed with a soluble fertiliser if the plants look a little yellow. Plant the seedlings on top of the formed mound and water in. The best time to plant is early spring, the plants will grow vigorously so limit the amount of nitrogen fertiliser applied, give just enough to keep the leaves green, excessive nitrogen will make the trees grow tall very quickly and the first fruit will be higher than desirable above ground level. If you have grown a dioecious variety, that is separate male and female trees, then plant 4 seedlings at each mound. As the males show cut them out at ground level, keeping 2 or 3 male trees in total for pollen. If you have grown a bisexual variety, that is bisexual trees (longer, thinner fruit) and female trees (rounder fruit), then plant 2 seedlings at each mound, either sex type will produce fruit. The bisexual trees will provide pollen for the females. Hand pollinate all females to ensure fruit set. Once the trees are flowering apply sulphate of potash at 2 grams/tree/week gradually increasing this amount to 20 grams/tree/week when harvesting has commenced. Sulphate of Potash will help grow large healthy flowers and fill the fruit out. The time from flowering to harvest will be around 6 months. Chook pellets are a good fertiliser to apply with the sulphate of potash, give each mound a handful every 2 weeks. The trees need to be well watered over summer when temperatures are high, up to 150 litres/mound/week. For the rest of the year water moderately and remember over-watering will encourage root disease. The worst pest you will encounter is the fruit spotting bug, a green/brown winged sap sucking insect up to 10 mm long. Remove these by hand before they cause damage.
Sheryl: Garry was a certified organic Papaya Seed producer and sold organic seed of both red and yellow fleshed papaya (in Australia yellow fleshed are called paw paw). but he has now sold the business.