These days – thanks to the combination of concerns about the environmental issues of transporting foodstuffs around the globe, coupled with the harsh economic climate, there is a tendency for people to choose growing and eating their own locally grown produce. Does this also apply, you may ask, to the cacao plant?
Of course, chocolate lovers would probably delight in having a plant which provides produce which can be made into cocoa and chocolate products. In terms of the natural habitat for the cacao tree, it grows in a tropical climate such as South America or Central America and also in Africa and Asia. As a rule, this evergreen plant prefers temperatures around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if you fancy growing your own cacao plant in a more arid country, why not try growing one in your greenhouse?
The cacao plant is not especially hardy so it is worth taking the time to learn how to take care of the plant. Here are a few tips as to how to get going.
The easiest way to get started is to buy a baby cacao plant from a nursery. If you are really hard core and want to do everything yourself, you could take a stem cutting (the cutting should have a few leaves on it and one or two buds) and, once you`ve dipped it in rooting hormone, pot it into a well-drained pot, keep the soil moist and covered with a plastic bag. Keep the plant warm and in a shaded space. The plant can take more light, the bigger it grows.
When you have your baby cacao plant, by whatever means, it needs to be planted in a shaded place. It has been said that, because cacao plants need shade, they can be planted in rainforests which has the environmental advantage of protecting these important habitats. For home use, make sure the hole for your plant is three times the diameter of the root ball and three times the height.
Expert gardening sites recommend that the plant is watered immediately with a slow soaking and that mulch is spread 3 – 6 inches thick around the tree (about half a foot away from the trunk). The plant should then be watered according to the soil type but remember the cacao grows naturally in tropical climes.
There is a debate as to whether to use fertilizers and chemicals on the plant. Some say yes, some say no. If you choose to apply fertilizer, follow the direction on the pack. The tree should be pruned once it reaches a couple of feet in height. It has been recommended to allow four branches to develop and to prune away others.
In due course, you should begin to see the produce of the tree! Of course, for life’s other little treats, it may be easier to pop to the shop to buy your goodies. And for coffee lovers, rather than going to the trouble of buying a coffee plant, it may be better to buy your coffee beans online: http://www.caffesociety.co.uk/coffee-ingredients-sundries/coffee/fresh-coffee-beans.