Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a Hampshire garden. I've been growing veggies since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Some traditional varieties and old favourites as well as new ideas. I share my garden with my allotment assistant Daisy the Labrador.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

How to Grow Pineapples

You might not recognise the object pictured above, but it is a pineapple root! Last week I visited a pinapple plantation in the Azores and learned how to grow pineapples! These roots are laid out in trays of compost and kept moist and very warm for about 8 months.
Alternatively you can take the top from a pineapple - as long as the growing middle has not been removed - strip the lower leaves from the stalk and leave it to dry on a windowsill for a couple of weeks. You will see the little vestigial roots in the leaf joints.
After about 8 months or so green shoots will appear from this root, and these are broken off and planted out under glass and left to grow for up to 2 years! One of the most startling things I learned is that they are not given any nutrients or feed, they are grown in woodchippings and sawdust, with a top dressing of pittosporum leaves!
Now this is the bit where I come unstuck in London - the temperatures inside these greenhouses are unbearably hot! Just about the same temperature as a very hot sauna or Turkish bath.
In fact this picture above had to be taken quickly within about half a second of walking inside the greenhouse as my glasses and camera lens were completely steamed up. This is a baby pineapple, the beautiful flowers bloom out of each of the tiny segments - I did not know this!
Eventually you get something that resembles a pineapple after about 2 years (although I am told that in warmer climates they can do it in 18 months)
So after about 2 years of sweltering heat inside a greenhouse on the Azores - you have grown your own pineapple! - I might just start off the process inside a heated propagator inside a greenhouse in Summer in London... and see how far I get!


At 9:15 PM, Blogger Magic Cochin said...

Two years - now I didn't know that!
The Victorian kitchen gardeners used to grow them - a small boy stoking a brazier and underground heating ducts and a hot-bed of rotting manure are probably needed too!


At 4:52 AM, Blogger tina said...

Amazing! I have a pineapple top growing on my deck right now. Growing is not the right word as I did not cut it right. It is just sitting there. No roots. Time to start over with your instructions. Thanks! btw, loved the Azores. I passed through there once on my way to the States. So pretty! I did not know they grew pineapples and that is a long time for something so yummy to come to market.

At 6:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what is the temperature requirement? And for how long do they need the high temperature? It's fairly hot, and pretty humid where I live, but it might not be hot enough, or for long enough without extra steps like you might take.

At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Soilman said...

That's amazing! How the hell did those Victorians get their glasshouses hot enough to grow them? I know they used the heat from decomposing manure - somehow - but there must have been a hell of lot of manure!!!

At 8:26 PM, Anonymous easygardener said...

The pineapple flower looks slightly unreal.
Quite a shock sometimes to see exotic fruit actually growing as opposed to sitting on a supermarket shelf.

At 2:10 PM, Blogger UKBob said...

Hi Matron, I managed to root a pineapple top last autumn and it is still alive in the greenhouse although I think I nearly lost it in the winter as I'm thinking I may have over watered it - thats just a guess though. I have it in potting compost so I'm thinking after what you just said I might be better off finding some wood chippings. I wonder if Orchid compost would do? The trouble is after getting this far with it I don't like to do too much experimenting. By the way I'm going walking for two weeks, not the weekend. Bob.

At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in central Florida and have been growing pineapples in my garden for about 10 years. I didn't know I had "to trim the top". I have just been planting the top and harvested 10 pineapples this year from my 23 plants. (It is a slow process the first few years.) I do cover the plants with a painter's cloth on the few occassions it freezes.

At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Charles said...

I like the way you explain how to grow pineapples. I come from a region were pineapples are grown so its intresting to learn how others manage to grow pineapples in difficult weather conditions.

At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just harvested my first pineapple, and wonder if the plant will go on to produce more; it has put up about 8 "side shoots" or baby plants. Will these produce fruit? Shall I attempt to separate them? Is this how they are propagated commercially? Jan

At 8:10 PM, Blogger Matron said...

Jan, When I watched the demonstration in the Azores the main plant is discarded when it has fruited. The side shoots were separated to produce cuttings. The thick fibrous roots were also laid down horizontally - like a rhizome - and shoots grew up from these too.


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