Tuesday, 7 January 2014
possum up a tree
Let's get something straight, growing mangoes is tricky business. There's a reason they charge so much for those suckers at the supermarket. This is the first time in a few years that my massive Bowen mango tree has set fruit. Usually we get rain at the wrong time and that darned tree won't put on a single mango! But this season, well we had fantastic conditions for fruit setting and I had massive amounts of fruit all over my tree. Pretty little mangoes heavily laden all over the branches. I was excited. Yes, yes, I know one shouldn't count one's fruit before it's picked, but by golly, I love mangoes and it was looking like my first real crop was going to be a bumper one. I admit it, I had my hopes up.
I've been watching those little mangoes for months now. I tried not to stress out when a bunch of them just dropped off the branches for no particular reason. I told myself, "It's fine, there's still plenty of mangoes there. You'll still get a crop". The remaining fruit has been gradually swelling in size, many becoming large and plump. I've been literally salivating for weeks over my not yet ripe crop, proudly showing them off to any friends who should stop by.
As the fruit has been approaching readiness, I've been asking a few locals if there are any pests that I should be worried about? I'd been warned about a fungus that can infect crops (amazingly mine didn't look too bad), but other than that I was told generally the mango sap is a huge deterrent to most pests.
Well sadly they haven't met my possums. Over the past couple of years, I've been making peace with the possums that live around my house. I was a little annoyed when they ate every single bud on my newly planted rose bushes, but was willing to forgive and move on. But they have now committed the ultimate sin. Gnawing their way through my beautiful green mangoes, eating the unripe flesh right through into the fat seeds that lie within. The jewel in my growers cap, pilfered right from underneath my nose just a week or two before they were due to be plucked and devoured.
My dream of gorging myself on sweet, juicy mangoes grown from my own tree has been been crushed. Every morning more of my precious crop sits beneath the tree covered with those all-too-familiar teeth marks.