April 14, 2022

Do you know how pineapples grow?

When I first moved to the Northern Rivers, my garden offered a fruit-salad; mulberries, passionfruit, custard apples…and pineapples! “Do you know how pineapples grow?” I would ask visiting friends, completely failing to keep the smugness out of my tone, especially when most confessed they did not.

I should ditch the smugness because, for a long time, I didn’t know either.

The extent of my childhood home’s vegie patch was passionfruit growing over the fence from the neighbour’s garden. My parents loved it but not liking passionfruit (at the time) meant I didn’t find much wonder in this early exposure to vine-to-plate eating.

Sesame Street, that stalwart of childhood learning, showed me how peanuts grow. I still recall the segment showing rough hands pulling up huge clusters from rich red soil. I yearn to try this harvest experience (note to self: befriend a peanut farmer).

It was as a young adult travelling in southern India that I realised I had no idea how pineapples grow, a realisation prompted by my ‘eat a pineapple a day to keep the doctor away’ strategy.

I swallowed my pride and asked other travellers, some of who had been in India for many months and had strong opinions on everything. Surely they would know? It seems not, as some swore they’d seen pineapples grow in trees and others were adamant that pineapples grew like carrots.

I took myself into the hills to find out. OK, the trip was really to escape the heat, but a bonus was staying in pineapple-growing territory. I couldn’t have been more surprised to find pineapples cheerfully growing about 10 centimetres above ground level, nestled within dark green spiky leaves, sitting up on thick but short stalks firmly attached to their butts.

I am now older and very slightly wiser. To my joy, I now know that, if you have the right sub-tropical geography, you can simply plant a pineapple top into the soil.

It takes a while though so, if you are inspired, settle into the two years ahead of enjoying checking your very own pineapples as they grow from cute little miniatures into a sweet and juicy garden-to-plate delight.

Vivienne Pearson is a freelance writer whose writing lives at viviennepearson.com

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