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Mangoes

Who doesn’t like Mangos, they were a must in the Food Forest at Booyong?

We are fortunate to have an established Mango tree (Mangifera indica) in our home garden in Sydney and I have used photo’s from here as our Booyong tree is quite young. Our Sydney tree is quite large (8-12m) and evergreen which is lovely. It is actually almost too big and harvesting can be a challenge, we will be sure to prune our Booyong tree so we more easily harvest the fruit with ease.

Mangos like a warm, sheltered position and well-drained soil. Young trees should be fed in spring and late summer and require regular watering. Older and more established trees should be fed when harvesting (March) and again in June.

If you were planting a new tree in a temperate zone, late spring (around October/November) or Autumn is the best time to plant. Mangoes will grow in almost any well-drained soil whether sandy, loam or clay, with a pH between 5.5 and 7.5. Avoid heavy, wet soils. They have an extensive root system so like deep soil. The best growing temperature for mango is 24 – 27 and they like sunshine. We have learnt from experience that young plants don’t like frost and will ensure the plant is protected by shade cloth at Booyong this winter.

Feed mangoes with organic fertiliser (citrus), but do not fertilise after midsummer. Young trees respond well to seaweed and fish emulsion and when established this improves fruit quality and flavour and helps combat mineral deficiencies. It’s important to keep mango trees well-watered from spring to autumn. Withhold water for the three months prior to flowering in late spring, to encourage flowers. Established trees like our one is Sydney requires little watering throughout the year.

Young mango trees should be pruned to maximise branching. When trees reach fruit bearing age, prune them each year after the harvest to maintain size, thin out the canopy and remove dead wood. Mulching is required each Spring with pea, hay, sugar cane, lucerne or compost to a depth of 10cm, keeping it away from the base of the trunk.

Mangoes are self-fertile, so a single tree will produce fruit without cross-pollination. Fruit is getting close to ripe when it starts to turn from green to yellow, and fruit ranges in size from 250 – 750g. They can ripen inside at room temperature and once ripe can be kept in the fridge.

We notice that some years the mango tree produces prolific fruit and others not at all. Fruit tree expert, Dr Louis Glowinski  says “mangoes produce most reliably in areas with a dry winter, dry spring, rainfall during summer and then a dry spell as the fruit matures … the dry winter spell initiates the flowering, while the dry conditions in spring promote pollination and reduce fungal disease.”

You can grow mangoes from seed, they produce up to eight shoots from each seed, with only one of which is different from the parent tree. Remove this one – usually the centrally-located, most vigorous shoot – and all the other shoots sent up are identical in fruit type to the parent mango tree. If you plant a seed, do not expect any fruit for many years, and even then, fruit will be poorer in quality than a grafted tree. We purchased our Booyong Mango from Daleys and as with any fruit tree purchase be sure to pick a variety that suits your local conditions.

We were unable to find any reference to Mangoes and companion planting and would welcome any advise from readers.

The most serious disease of mango is the fungus anthracnose. It starts as circular, sunken brown to black spots that are quite small. Fruit flies are also a troublesome pest of the mango so covering the fruit as it forms is helpful. Our neighbour Mette has had success this year using a brown paper bag.
Finally, take care when handling a mango where the sap has oozed out from the stem. It contains urushiol, a poison that can cause dermatitis.

References: http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/fact-sheets/food-and-recipes/food-health-nutrition/mango-growing-tips-and-recipes/#.Voxk_1LwGaE and http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s2164092.htm and http://www.daleysfruit.com.au/forum/when-to-feed-and-prune-a-mango/