It is not often that we associate travelling for work, with adventure. This is one such story. A few years ago, while returning back from some work in Pune, the driver informs me that we needed to fill petrol. As we were running dangerously low, we head to the nearest petrol pump before we could get on to the expressway. Power cuts are common in Pune and while we were waiting our turn to fill up, there was a power outage. With no other option in sight, we hesitatingly decide to wait.
As someone who thrives on efficiency and maximizing time, this was not an ideal situation. Stuck in limbo, my fight-or-flight response kicks in and I decide to turn this frustrating setback into an opportunity. Back then, I had set a daily target of 10,000 steps to complete (remember the Fitbit craze days?) and since I was travelling for work, I couldn’t get much exercise in. I decide to ignore the scorching heat and take a walk rather than sitting in a coffee shop. That way I could accomplish 2 things – complete my target steps for the day as well as have a mini adventure by exploring an unknown new place.
You don’t choose the pineapple; the pineapple chooses you
With my intention of seeing things through the lens of adventure, I aimlessly explored the area. Soon I found myself walking through a transport holding area. This is where trucks carrying goods between cities are halted and cargo is loaded and unloaded for the city. I could see fruits, vegetables, cloth, electronics and other goods being shifted from bigger trucks onto smaller tempos and vehicles. This was the back end that feeds the city!
On being informed that the power was back at the petrol pump, I quickly started walking back to the car. On my way there, I noticed this pineapple head (the top spiky green part of the pineapple which is discarded) on the road. Well I don’t normally go around admiring pineapple heads on the street, but as a matter of coincidence, that past week itself I was watching some YouTube videos on growing fruits and vegetables at home. I had come across this crazy fact that pineapples can be grown at home in a pot. Until then, I didn’t know or hadn’t thought about how Pineapples were grown – whether it was a plant or a tree (it is a plant btw). I found this to be a cool fact and I guess this was in the back of my mind when I saw this pineapple head on the road. It was surprisingly clean and healthy and seemed destined for me to find. I decided to pick it up and take it back home with me. The environment I was in provided this gift to me and I was on an adventure anyways, right?
Discarded pineapple top
How to grow a pineapple
I sat in the car with the driver staring at me and my new toy. The entire journey back, I do my research on how to plant this pineapple. I reached home and got right to it. It was fairly straightforward
- Removed the lower leaves to expose the stem, as this is where the roots would grow from
- Found the biggest pot I had and planted this a few inches into the soil with the leaves sticking out
- Watered it and placed it in an area where it would get some good sunlight
And that’s it! I am no expert gardener – just a curious person who loves nature and everything that comes with it. I’m sure that there were better ways to ensure the success of this taking root, but I used the resources I had back then and went for it. I watered it regularly along with my other plants. There were small periods where I couldn’t water it because of my travel, but it survived and continued to grow and the spiky leaves kept getting bigger. I never really expected anything from it and was just happy with the fact that the leaves were getting bigger and I had planted it from the discarded portion of a pineapple.
Leaves taking over the pot
2 years had passed and the leaves had completely taken over the pot. It had gone from a small little thing to almost 3 feet wide. One day, I noticed this pop of red color in the middle of the leaves. I couldn’t believe it – it was a flower! In the center of this thorny plant was a beautiful red flower which was going to turn into a pineapple. Fun fact – a pineapple is the result of dozens of fruit-producing flowers that have fused into a single fruit.
Every day I could see these flowers look more and more like a pineapple. It kept getting bigger and after almost 6 months, there was a full-grown pineapple sitting on top of my plant – defying gravity and logic. It went from green to a yellow color and started smelling sweet. It was finally ready to be harvested. I carefully twisted it off the plant, and held it in my hands – which turned out to be anticlimactic as it hurt like hell (you have to wear gloves while doing this).
The Grand Dinner
We kept a celebratory dinner for the entire family to eat this 1 Pineapple. After all, for the past 6 months, they had heard enough about this pineapple growing in the balcony and were now excited to taste it. Again, trying to maximize the output, I made 3 dishes out of it – using it in a drink, salad and main course. It was the sweetest and most satisfying pineapple we had ever had.
After dinner, I head to the balcony. I had prepared a pot and kept it ready. Earlier that day, I found out that you get only 1 pineapple per plant (maybe a small second one if you are lucky). I somehow imaged that you would get a whole lot of pineapples after 2 and a half years of waiting. Like I did the first time, I removed the lower leaves of the pineapple head we had just eaten, exposed its roots and planted it in the pot. A couple years of patience, love and care later, we had another pineapple.
The Short Version
- Found a discarded pineapple head on the road
- Planted pineapple head in a pot (yes! it is a plant and not a tree)
- 2 years later, small flowers bloomed on the pineapple plant which fused into a single pineapple
- Tastiest pineapple ever eaten
- Everyone can grow one!