Sunday, May 17, 2009
An overwhelming response to my last blog entry as an Orange
I was pleasantly surprised at the incredible response to my last blog entry where I tried to highlight the life of the oranges that grow in the villages of the Polonnaruwa district, left to rot on the ground due to no demand. I have had so many calls for these oranges, that thanks to my highlighting this issue, I will probably be able to sell every orange that village produces in the next season. Thanks to you all. Something I forgot to mention is that you can keep the orange fresh in the fridge for about 2 weeks and longer if you have it squeezed and the juice kept in the freezer section, thus prolonging the enjoyment.
I should guarantee to buy the whole crop and pay an extra rupee to the homeowners so they would value their trees more and either water it to get a greater yield and also compost at the foot, to ensure a richer and more bountiful harvest. One thing I will continue with, is all the plucking and not leave that task to the homeowner, as the level of spoilage due to falling on the ground would exceed 50% if not plucked by hand.
In my Hingurakgoda property, there were 10 trees that had not been taken care of when I moved in, so once I put a good dose of compost and also gave it a soaking, I was able to get a reasonable harvest of fruit, where earlier there was none. The next step is to learn how to get a regular crop, as I need to experiment with methods to get the trees to flower. A heavy pruning now will do the trick, as we are in for a dry spell for the next 6 months.
One thing that is impossible to control is the fruit’s level of sweetness, as even growing plants from the seeds of the sweetest fruit does not guarantee fruit of the same level of sweetness. That is up to chance, and tissue culture would be something I should investigate though I confess I know nothing about that method.
That gives me an idea, that if we are able to replicate the best trees by tissue culture, then these trees, and their widespread propagation, can be encouraged once a more permanent demand is established, and we get a new product that reaches the mass market that is superior in everyway to the imported varieties. As an aside to this, those living outside SL would be shocked at the level of imported fruit we now have here, partly due to the high cost of local fruit which makes the imported apples and oranges from the USA cheaper, (yes USA including Apples from the state of Washington) than fruit here. Mangoes are regularly over Rs50/- whereas apples are around Rs30/- I know we are comparing different fruit, but I wanted to make the point nevertheless.
Going on a tangent, after destroying all my papaya trees, as they were infected with that Mealy Bug(pitti makuna) that had been brought from overseas, that has also killed the Araliya trees, we have now imported a beetle form the USA to eat the mealy bug. I hope this works and does not in turn become a pest for other crops. This is currently being tested in the Polonnaruwa area before being released to other areas. The new papaya plants I have grown since will take a few more months to come into bearing, and so despite constant requests I will not be able to satisfy my customers for a while. How can I talk about oranges today when the war is finally over, but the new era that is just dawning has not hit us yet, as I have been so exhausted, being inconvenienced because of it.