Friday, April 19, 2013

HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN MANGO TREE FROM A SEED



So you want to grow a mango tree from a seed do you? Well good because it's a fun and easy experience that can be very rewarding. Just follow my simple steps and you too can have a baby tree living in your home. 

Mangoes are originally from South Asia but they are now grown any where tropical OR in your own back yard OR in your own home, depending on where you live. I find them quite good and almost always have them on hand. You can find mangoes in almost every produce section of your grocery store, including Wal-Mart. They run about a dollar each but can be less or more depending on the time of year, where they are from, which store you go to, and where you live. They can be tricky to eat with their big seed in the middle, but hold on to that thing if you want to grow your own baby mango tree! 

STEP ONE: PICKING OUT A MANGO. 

Don't ask me how to do this part. All I know is all mangoes contain seeds so it doesn't matter a whole lot on what you get from your local grocery store. Green or red, and sometimes both is their common color. They can be firm or feel a tad bit squishy, this doesn't matter if you're just planning to get the seed out, HOWEVER if you want to eat them too, go for the more firm feeling mangoes. I have found that when they start to rot and become squishy and even begin to fall apart they are better for seed use because they are good and ripe and that seed is ready to grow! They don't taste good at this point and it really is tricky on finding one that is ready to eat, I often miscalculate this. Point is, if you're going to eat it then watch closely on how to cut them up, which is discussed in step two coming up..............NOW

STEP TWO: CUTTING UP THE MANGO.

Mango seeds grow inside the middle of the fruit vertically and are slender. (scroll down to see the pictures to get a better idea) You'll have to cut off one side of the mango and then the other, leaving an oval shape of fruit and skin. 

Now if you are going to eat a Mango this is a good way to cut it anyway. The sides that you are left with, make good eating. Cut a checker board pattern into the fruit part without cutting the skin on the other side, then simply turn it inside out and you have cubes of mango meat ready for eating. Note: A mango can be ridiculously juicy. 

Once your sides are cut off start to cut off or peel the remaining skin from around your center part. Don't worry about the skin, you can't eat it and it won't hurt the seed. I often start mine with a knife and then just rip the rest off. Once off you have the seed surrounded by remaining mango fruit. 
Now comes the annoying part, getting all the fruit off of the seed. You'll feel the seed in there and getting the remaining fruit off with a knife is near impossible, that's why I just bite off the fruit with my teeth. You can also just squish it off with your hands or with a knife, but this is a long process. Using running water helps with this part too. Once you get most of the fruit off a knife scraping along the seed's sides is a good tool to clean it up. Again running water helps with this. Scrape off all of the fruit until you are left with our husky little friend, the mango seed. 

Be careful, some seeds may have already started to sprout and you may end up chopping off your little seed's root without knowing! Usually the seed won't be growing this much yet (it's only happened to me one time ever...tonight actually.) 

STEP THREE: GETTING THE SEED. 

Ah but WAIT, this isn't the seed itself, no this is just the husk (endocarp) or outer part that contains the seed, much like a shell to a nut. The seed is inside and getting it out isn't as easy as cracking open a peanut. 

Every outer seed cover, seen here, has a curvature on one of its sides. I'm pointing it out here with my thumb but on this one it is VERY difficult to see. In real life it's easy to feel if you just run your fingers around the edge. THIS CURVE IS VERY IMPORTANT because it is where you need to make your incision to get the seed out. You will now need to be VERY CAREFULLY, and I can't stress that enough, put the tip of a sharp knife blade into the curved part of the seed shell. NOT DEEP!!! The seed is very close to this area and you can easily stab it, cut it, or break it, ruining the seed's chances to grow. I can't count how many times I've done this myself. 

Run the blade along the ridge, you won't have to go far, all you need is a small enough opening to get your thumb tips in so you can break open the husky shell covering. Please take your time with the knife and be gentle, as I said before the seed is very close to this ridge and you can cut right into it. NOTE: That may happen no matter how careful you are, and if it does it's no big deal, that is why I'd suggest getting several mangoes to be on the safe side. Once you have a slit big enough for a thumb, insert your thumb and run it along the slit helping to crack the seed cover. At this point you'll be able to peek inside and see your little seed baby. 



Once the opening is big enough, push both thumbs or fingers inside and break the covering in half, exposing your seed. I broke one entire side of the shell off so you can see how the seed sits inside its covering. NOTE: Mango seeds have umbilical cords. It's true. You'll see this tiny cord attaching the actual seed to the covering, it's safe to just pull it off, it won't harm your seed. 

Your seed may have a "skin" on it, that is ok to pull off, often it is falling off on its own. You don't have to get rid of this skin but it is of no importance to the seed or planting. The seed also may have started to sprout at the top of the seed, this is good and it would be great if you can get one that is already starting to grow. If not, don't worry, your seed can still grow. You can see on this seed where the root will start to sprout and in this other seed you can see how the root was already on its way to sprouting.
 
STEP FOUR: PREPARING YOUR SEED FOR GROWTH.

Now that your seed is free from its fruit enslavement, it is ready to be planted. There are many different ways to plant a seed but I find the best and fastest way is the wet paper towel and plastic baggy method.   

Take your seed and take a sheet of paper towel. Wrap the seed in the paper towel and wet it. It doesn't matter how wet it gets but I usually squeeze out the excess water. Once wrapped in the soaking wet paper towel put it into a plastic bag, squeezing out the air and sealing it up. 


You can leave your plastic bag in a warm place as your seed will sprout its root. This will be the first thing it grows and the trunk will come out of the opposite end. 
It will be ok to open up the bag and unwrap your seed to check on its growth but be gentle with it. It will be good to change the paper towel as well. Be patient and give it time. Depending on temperature and genetics from the seed itself there is no telling on how fast or slow this may take. Many seeds are "duds" and although disappointing.....well not although, it is just plain disappointing BUT it does happen, again one more reason why I always do more than one seed at at time. 

There are other ways to get the seed to grow. Putting the seed in a tub of clean water in a warm area can cause the seeds to grow. I have tried this method and have had some growth but I can never get very far so I don't use it. Also for whatever reason, I find the paper towel/baggy method is much faster for starting the seeds. You can also simply put the seed in a pot with dirt. I have never tried this method but my problem with it is, you never know what the seed is doing, as in growing or if it's a dud, so you can wait and wait and wait for perhaps nothing. I suggest if you want to do it like that, then please read up on how to do it. 

Well there you have it! Once you see a root started it will be time to plant the seed into soil. This is where it always goes wrong for me and I believe, from what I've researched, it is due to my soil itself. Apparently mangoes HATE good, rich, black soil...in fact, it kills them, as it has to several of my baby trees. I have read that SAND, with no soil is the best thing for a seedling to start its life. Well that is what I'll try as soon as these little guys sprout for me. I will do a future update on these seeds. 


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