One of the great pleasures of living in the Costa Rican mountains is the ability to plant a huge variety of flowering and fruiting trees and watch them shoot up like rockets.
As a general observation, fruits that do well at high altitudes tend to have a sour taste component, as compared to the hot lowland areas, where sweet tastes predominate.
The tropical climate and soil make for the perfect growing conditions.
Following are a few photos of some of the plants we have put in about a year and a half ago. The first of these is a variety of mango called "Tommy Atkins", which is a large fleshy rich tasting export variety mango. The trees we bought were grafts, called locally 'injertado'. These fruit much faster than those developed from seed.
For the longest time nothing seems to happen to the mango saplings. They stay dormant until a certain point in the dry season when explosive growth happens seemingly over a few weeks, and the foliage doubles or triples in volume.
Seen here is a mango throwing out new bunch of leaves; the reddish colour comes from the presence of a growth hormone. They all appeared practically overnight!
As time goes by the red colour fades to a light green, then to a final dark green. In about two more years these plants will be bearing fruit!
This year - 2 years after planting - our first mango tree has flowered! This means fruit will be ripe in a few months: our first mango fruit!
Where soil has been exhausted through overuse, natural fertilizer is readily available in the form of chicken manure, called 'gallinaza'.
It comes in large sacks costing around $2 each. These must be stored in a dry place, because if the gallinaza gets wet it begins to smell atrociously.
The best way to use it is to dig a little hole outside the root radius of the plant or tree and bury it. The slow decay of the manure then won't emit a stench.
Gallinaza is considered a 'slow' fertilizer in that it takes around 10 months for it to break down to the point where the root system can utilise the nutrients. This is the reason for placing it under the soil outside the root radius - if you put it in close to the roots it may 'burn' them. The roots will grow towards the area where the gallinaza is buried and hopefully meet it at the point in time when the product has broken down completely.
Another amazing fruit common to the mountain area here is manzana de agua. We are fortunate to have a couple already fully grown trees on the property, and they produce in incredible abundance.
Manzana de Agua flowers
The fruit has a mildly astringent taste, with a flavour like rose water.
Manzana de Agua fruit
Tropical overabundance of fruit: too much to eat!
Papaya and passionfruit