At Niagara Parks we are all about growing and eating local. From our Nature + Gardens sites, including our Botanical Garden and Floral Showhouse and School of Horticulture, to our Feast On certified restaurants that source Ontario ingredients and beverages, local is very much rooted in what we do.
While we are all home and do our parts to flatten the COVID-19 curve, our talented growers, horticulturalists, and culinary artists at Niagara Parks want to offer our visitors from around the world some thoughts on growing at home. Check back in the coming weeks as we offer quick tips for your home gardens, whether edible or to create a feast for your eyes.
Edible Gardening: Playing with Mango Pits
Today we are getting royal.
Don’t worry though, you won’t need to brush up on your formal etiquette or catch up on the Crown, we are going to outline in five easy steps, a method by which you can grow the King of Fruits, the mango, in your own kitchen.
Now, of course the mango is by no means a fruit that is local to Niagara, let alone Canada, but fortunately that won’t stop us today, nor as we look ahead to summer. Consider this more of an experiment, and outside of summer, a pet plant for the inside of your home (as they need warm climates to thrive).
A bit of background first…
The mango is a very sweet, very delicious, very fleshy, and very global fruit. It has been dubbed the King of Fruits, although this is a contested label that is also shared with Durian, which dominates the title particularly in Southeast Asia.
The mango is a “stone fruit” or drupe, an indehiscent fruit that is characterized by a single seed contained within a pit shell (the stone or endocarp), that is itself contained within a flesh (mesocarp), and covered by a layer of skin (exocarp). Other drupes or “stone fruits” include cherries, peaches, nectarines, and apricots. Proudly, the mango is the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines, and within cultures across the world you will find many different varietals and many different ways of enjoying them.
So let’s get started. Today we are working with green or red mangoes, which you may find as the most common varietal in your local supermarket. First thing’s first, get a ripe mango and enjoy it.
Step 1: Clean the pit and let it dry.
Once you have enjoyed your mango, take the pit, carefully remove all remaining flesh, clean it, and set it aside to let it dry for about 24 hours.
Step 2: Split the pit and remove the seed.
Once you have let the pit dry, very carefully pry open the shell (the endocarp). and remove the seed.
Step 3: Peel the skin to prepare the seed.
Now that you have freed the seed from its shell, you will find that it has a fine film or layer of skin. With the water method we will be using today to germinate the seed you will want to remove that skin as best you can otherwise it could prompt mold, which would kill plant growth.
Step 4: Immerse in water.
The seed is now ready. Examine it closely to find the point that the plant will sprout from, this typically will look like a little round nub or fold on the narrower end of the seed. Fill a cup or container with water and carefully spike the seed with toothpicks so that it angles the sprout-point into the water while balancing the majority of the seed out of the water. Between mold and drowning, you do not want to immerse too much of the seed.
Keep tabs on the water level and freshen as needed, keep in a well-lit area, after a few days to a week you should see sprouting, but it could take two to four weeks before it really becomes a fledgling plant.
Step 5: Transfer.
After the fledgling plant has developed enough, say six inches and green, remove the seed from the water and plant in a pot. Use rich soil and keep in a well-lit, warm area. Make sure the pot drains well and water moderately, mangoes do not need a lot of water, but it should also not be dry.
NOTE: Remember that part about it being a pet plant? Mango trees do not typically produce fruit until up to five years out. So yes, you will be taking care of this little guy for a little bit. Make way for the king.