When we first moved into this house some eight years ago, I bought a small mango tree from Cliff Bryan who has a nursery on St. Thomas. I’m sure I agonized over my choice of grafted trees, but I soon forgot the name of the one I choose.
Where we live in Chocolate Hole is not an ideal spot for a mango tree. The soil is clay. The rainfall here is less than on other parts of the island and the land, facing east, is exposed to the drying effects of the trades.
To mitigate these adverse conditions, we dug a big hole, filled it with good soil and plenty of organic fertilizers and planted the little tree just below our deck.
Most mango trees bear at least one or two mangos fairly soon after they’re planted and become established. Ours, although it grew larger rapidly did not bear at all the first year or the second, or the third, or the forth or the fifth year. Not one flower, not one mango. I became angry at the tree. It was so big and lush, but no mangoes.
On the sixth year we harvested a giant crop of five mangoes. What that tree lacked in quantity, however, it made up in quality; the mangoes were delicious, big, juicy and without a hint of fiber. The next year was better than that, but this year looks really promising.
One never knows with mangoes. Anything can happen. A strong wind can easily blow off all the flowers or small fruits before they set. Too much or too little rain at the wrong times can also decimate the harvest. Nonetheless, I want to document this years flowering our mango tree, so here a photo to remember it by. Hopefully it will be followed by more photos of a tree full of big ripe mangoes.
About the name
As I wrote before, I had forgotten the name of our variety. We had a mango book, but we couldn’t be sure and none of the names rung a bell. Various mango experts from around St. John offered their opinions, but I wasn’t convinced by anyone.
One day we met our friend Rajni at Honeymoon Bay. Her father, mother and sister from the Philippines were visiting and it turns out that her dad is an agronomist for the United Nations and is a big plant expert.
We took him to see our tree. One look and he had it – it is a malika – it came back to me – that was it! And we got a history and fact list to go along with it. Not bad. That’s St. John for you – somebody usually come along when you need them.
If we get enough mangoes this year, maybe I won’t be so selfish with them. Stay tuned…