This year, our mango orchard turns five, and we harvested close to 500 fruit over about two and a half months.
The first few batches, which included windfalls, hailfalls, elephant knock-downs, cat knock-downs, wild boar pull-downs, half eaten fruits left by birds and squirrels, and fruit-fly infested fallers, had us running around desperately trying to salvage what we could. I made three kinds of pickle – chhunda, avakkai and manga thokku – with the raw ones. And juice and jam with the ripe ones. On the advice of my friend Padmini at Navadarshanam I’ve been flinging quantities of grated raw mango into sambar, rasam and dal, instead of tamarind or lime juice. I’ also froze as much pulp as my small freezer would hold. We were hesitant to give away the unaltered mangoes as more than half in each batch turned out bad. My compost pits and pots were overflowing. Plus, you’re supposed to bury the infested ones far away from the orchard. Anyway, after all that hard work, we are finally on the home stretch. The fruits are almost over, and these last ones are delicious, firm fleshed, wonderfully aromatic, the perfect blend of sweet and sour.
I fondly hope the trees are learning to cope with the pests on their own. And now we can proudly distribute them to family, friends and neighbours.
Trees in our windy land tend to grow slowly. This is one of ours, early in the season:
And here is a huge old wild mango I saw on one of our cross country walks:
It’s nice to imagine our trees growing to this size, even if we won’t be around to see it!