Growing papaya in North Florida?!? No way!
And yet I am, indeed, growing them in North Central Florida. It just takes some work to pull it off.
My first year’s experiment was less than successful, but I’ve already gotten at least 8 fruits off this year’s attempt.
In order to grow papaya here, I start the seeds in spring, get the tree to about 4-6′ tall in a pot, then plant out the next spring by the south wall.
I really, really like papaya. So much so that I’m thinking of building a greenhouse for just them. Obsessive? Perhaps. But there’s a part of me that longs for the tropics… and papaya are a tangible emblem of that mystical realm.
The ones we’ve harvested thus far have been very delicious – it’s hard to share them with the children, but I do. Because I’m a Really Good Dad.
We got hit with a frost last week but it wasn’t enough to hurt my trees much. The south wall of my house and a blanket thrown over the top of the nicest of my trees was enough… so far.
Of course, the worst of winter is yet to come. Stay tuned. I’m sure photos of melted trees will be posted here soon enough.
UPDATE: If you do get hit with frost before your papaya ripen, here’s a list of green papaya recipes.