Save the Mangos

Throughout the month of June this huge mango tree in my yard literally rains mangos. At the peak of the season, this tree dropped over 200 pounds of fruit in a day. It was impossible to go out and harvest the fruit without getting hit in the head with falling mangos. I harvested as much as I possibly could every day, eating six mangos myself for breakfast and freezing the fruit I couldn’t eat. Still I had bushels that were rotting in the yard, so I filled up boxes with 25 pounds of ripe mangos and drove them over to some of the busy intersections where homeless people beg for money. I pulled over to the side of the road and called for one to come over and asked him if he wanted the mangos. I always said “eat some, sell some, and give some away” for I knew they would rot before they could be eaten by the homeless man. That was met with some strange expressions as he was shocked to think about giving something away because he never thought he had enough for himself. I thought to myself, the beauty of this gift is that if this homeless person were to give a mango to people who gave him some change they would be so shocked by his generosity that they would likely return many times again to give him money when there were no mangos. But that is just background for why we need to save the mangos. I couldn’t eat, freeze, or give away all the mangos falling in my yard. Hundreds were just left to rot in the grass. Well, the fruit rotted but the seeds germinated.

This is an interesting situation. Seeds from Mangos at the grocery store rarely germinate because the refrigeration on the way to market kills the embryo; but here in my yard the embryos live and thrive. Except for the threat of the ugly lawn mower! I woke up today thinking, “in 24 hours the lawn service will arrive and slaughter over a hundred baby mangos”. I could only imaging the angst of the big mother mango sitting there watching her little babies getting eaten by the giant machine and feeling powerless to help them. I also thought of the hungry people in the world who could be fed for generations from the fruit of the trees about to be destroyed. What was I to do? There isn’t enough land on my property to grow them. I couldn’t save them or could I?

I ran over to Sam’s Club and bought a pack of 100 disposable 20 oz coffee cups and then over to Home Depot to pick up a two cubic foot bag of organic garden soil. Once back at the house I went into the back yard with a mop bucket and began gently plucking the little mangos out of the ground. They had just germinated from seeds sitting on top of the hard coral soil and were simple to harvest. Next I found an old sprinkler base with a metal spike that I could use to poke a single hole in the bottom of the coffee cups (for drainage). About an hour later 60 little mango trees were successfully planted in the cups and watered. Now I could stop worrying about the baby mangos. For now the biggest and strongest of the brew were out of harms way. They would survive the visit from the lawn service; but where would they go next? What was their destiny? How would I find them all a beautiful home to grow up in?

Luckily, our home owner’s association in Coconut Grove is having a yard sale next weekend. This is a great way to scatter the little mangos across the landscape. These plants evolved with a sweet fruit so animals would eat the fruit and scatter the seeds but today, we merely eat the fruit and dump the seeds in a giant landfill unsuitable for anything to live except bacteria. Now it’s up to us humans, people like you and me, to help scatter the seedlings so our children will be able to experience the wonderful fresh fruit of these trees.

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Come to the Utopia Homeowners Association’s yard sale on August 18 at the corner of Ventura Avenue and La Playa Avenue (map) between the hours of 8 AM and 1 PM and you can rescue one of these baby mangos. I’m selling them for five dollars each and will donate one dollar from each sale to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens conservatory to further support the conservation of rare and endangered plant species.

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