The Lovely Pineapple

At one point in history, Pineapple production was the main crop produced here in St Lucie County.  At that time there were no roads in and out of the coastal area.  All traffic come by way of the Indian River and all the big homes along the Indian River had pineapple growing in their front yard, from the house right down to the river.  Each home had their own dock that reached way out into the river to the large boats could tie up to the dock and they would load their ripe pineapples on and send them up to river to market.  It was a big industry at one time.  Then Mr Flaggler came down and opened up the area from here to Miami for tourists, there was a big hotel right on the rail line in Fort Pierce and some tourists and business men stopped there but most went on to West Palm or Miami and the rail road was extended all the way to Key West.  When that happened it opened the Cuban market for pineapples and the northern cities could get cheaper pineapples from the islands, and the industry began to fade here in St Lucie County.  Now there is no trace of the pineapple plantations that once supported the people here but a few of us still grow pineapples in our yards.  They are easy to grow here. All you have to do is take any fresh pineapple you get in the store, look for one with a good looking green top, cut off that top with about an inch of the pineapple with it and plant it into the ground.  Water it once in a while, feed it twice a year with any all purpose fertilizer and when ever you have a banana give the skins to the pineapple plant, they love them and then wait.  It takes about two years for the first pineapple to appear then it depends on the variety and there are many different one whether you get 2nd or 3rd pineapples on that same plant or if that plant sends babies off the side of it and you will get pineapples off of those in two years.  It does take a long time to grow a pineapple but it is well worth the wait.  Your own pineapples are ever so much sweeter and nicer and you never know what size you will get, sometimes they are larger than any you got in the store and sometimes they are almost miniatures.

We used to have a dozen plants at our winter home on Larkwood Circle but never got a pineapple.  They grew alright but just before they got ripe we were not here to pick them and by the time Patty would go over to pick them, they were gone, no trace of what happened to them.  We thought it was the neighbors that must of taken them because no one was living there all summer.  When we moved down here to live full time we watched the pineapple grow  and we found out who was taking them.  Just as they were ready to pick, just when we said tomorrow morning we will take our first pineapple for breakfast that night the raccoons would come out of the preserve and take the pineapples off.  They didn’t eat them there, they took them home for themselves.    We knew there were raccoons that live there as we had seen them at night raiding peoples garbage cans and we knew how clever they were from our farm in Tennessee, they did the same thing with the corn.  But Patty never had trouble with raccoons in her pine apples so it really surprised us.  I don’t know if they ate them or just like stealing them.  In Tennessee they stole the sun powered light that was on my porch and any dishes I left out to feed the cat.  We laughter and said they were furnishing their house with our porch things.

If you have never seen a pineapple grow you may be interested in these pictures.  I am too late this year to get the very first sign of a pineapple.  It comes right in the middle of the plant and looks like something caught in the middle of the plant.  In a few days it looks like this.

 

The only difference is it is way down in the center of the plant.  After a week or more the center stem grown tall like this one and the pine apple begins to grow and look like a pineapple.

For several weeks it looks like this only the pineapple itself gets larger and larger.  This is the flower for the plant and like any flower it has to be pollenated to grow.  The flower is all the little bumps around the pine apple and soon it looks like this.

And over the next few weeks this happens.

Each of the little bumps turn into a flower.  You have to keep a eye on them daily or you will miss this stage.  You can see I am really close to the plant here, 

At this range you can see the individual flowerettes.  You have to be careful those green leaves are sharp and saw like all down the side.  The men who painted our house complained that my plants would attach them and you can get a nasty cut from them but they are pretty.   This stage goes by rather quickly.  Once these fade it pine apple just gets bigger and bigger  but still green, then in the fall they start turning yellow and they are at their sweetest and ready to pick. The farmers pick them green and let them ripen on the way to market but they are sweeter and nicer if allowed to ripen on the plant.  One pine apple per plant, that is why they cost so much.  It takes tropical climate and lots of land to grow many pine apples.

We went through the back yard where the kids play and dug up all they plants that had no pineapples on them and junked those.  The few that had pine apples all ready growing we transplanted to the front or to the flower garden in the back.   The kids don’t bother the pine apples but the pine apples do bother the kids when they are playing or just running around so we decided the kids had to have a place to play and the pine apples had to go.

This was the fate of the plants that didn’t have pine apples.  They do need a lot of sun and many in the back yard didn’t get all they needed as there is a large live oak tree there and several pine trees plus the palms in the neighbor’s yard.  Patty hated to see them go but there was just not room for all of them. 

Here is Patty introducing you to here front yard and her pine apples.  There is the bed in front of her and those along the front of the house behind her.

You can see it has been a very dry year, the lawn is just about dead and the pine apples in the front garden are pretty sick looking but the pine apple itself is still growing, just the leaves are turning yellow and dying off.  The ones up next to the house get the shade in the afternoon so are still green and very much  something to be aware of or you get cut.  They are growing well and will have big pineapples on them.

We moved the blueberry plants that I had in the big pots to the back yard and they like that better.  They say they need 6 to 8 hours a day of sun light but that afternoon sun with no shade is too brutal for any plant, they need some shade in the afternoon.  I hope to have  a blue berry bed next door at our new house but I will have to do something for shade in the afternoon.  May be a pagoda with grapes growing up it will do the trick.  We see.  Have a great day.

About Carol (Ouma) Petts

I am a retired teacher. I have taught all levels from kindergarten through college and have been retired now for over 20 years. The last ten years we have lived on a farm and lived off the land, growing our own food and canning for our extended family. Now we have sold the farm and are moving to Florida to truly retire. I guess I have always had a short attention span as this is our 11th move. We have moved from a small farm in New Hampshire, to more city type living, small business adventures, focusing more on traveling, Florida living, Georgia, and Tennessee farming and now back to Florida. My blog is a way to keep my children up to date on what I am doing and letting them know I am still alive and well. My children are spread across the country from New England to Florida, Nova Scotia to New Mexico and CA and several places between, They let me know what they are up to by commenting on my blog but they are so busy with their own lives most times I have to assume " no news is good news". Now I are starting on a new adventure so will try to give daily updates until we get settled into a routine. Then I know even if I am getting older and should settle down I will start looking for some new and exciting adventure to start. Welcome aboard. Norman died Oct 30, 2017 so I am continuing the journey alone with the aid of my children, grand children and great grand children. At present I am living with my daughter and we are 7 in one house and cover four generations. We range in age from 7 to 85 and are finding common ground, we are living proof that multi generations can live and function in a three bedroom house if they really want to. Soon my grandson will have his house built next door so we all will have a room of their own except for the seven year old twins who by choice will share a room.
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