Years ago when I lived in the Ely council estate in Cardiff, I made the news a few times because of the exotic fruit I had managed to cultivate in my house and garden. The most memorable occasion was when I grew a pineapple in my living room and the story got reported on HTV News at Christmas.
It had taken me a few years to get the plant big enough to produce a flower and then a fruit, but I proved it was possible. Amazingly my house had no central heating at the time too so it was growing in a room that was unheated a lot of the time.
I started the pineapple off by taking the green spiky rosette off a pineapple I bought in a local shop, and after tearing off the bottom leaves, planting it in a pot full of garden soil. It soon took root and started to get bigger and I re-potted it into larger pots as it continued to grow larger. I remember how exciting it was seeing the flower developing in the centre.
I let it develop into a small pineapple fruit before I sent my proposal in to the local television station. I wrote a script too saying that in the cold and dark days on winter a Cardiff man was dreaming of a much warmer climate and holidays abroad. To help him get that tropical touch to his home in Ely he had grown his own pineapple.
They obviously liked my idea and soon got back to me and arranged to send a reporter called Victoria Pearce and a cameraman around to see me. I was shown pouring some water into the pineapple’s pot out of a milk bottle and I explained that I just used earth from the garden and water that came out of the tap. There were no secrets to my success but the report said that I had "green fingers". The news story ended with me saying that I hoped the pineapple would be big enough and ripe enough to eat for Christmas.
HTV added some footage of a tropical beach with palm trees and appropriate music for the introduction to the report. An expert from the Welsh National Botanical Centre explained that it was most unusual for anyone to grow a pineapple at home like this. A caption read: “Welsh pineapple grower Steve Andrews”.
Welsh Pineapple Grower Steve Andrews
South Wales Echo
I also sent the story into the South Wales Echo and grew a second pineapple a couple of years later.
My next horticultural success at growing exotic fruit was when I succeeded in growing several kiwi fruit on vines in my back garden. I had grown the plants from seed and had them twining up and around my washing-line pole.
I had a great story for the media about this too. My friend Ayla the Witch had been visiting and we had been sitting on the grass out the back garden on an early summer’s day. I had told my friend about how although I was really pleased with my kiwi fruit vines and the lovely flowers they produced each year, for some reason they never produced any fruit. She said she thought that this summer my luck would change and I would get a crop on my vines. I told Ayla that I hoped she was right and didn’t think any more about it.
But then just a few weeks later, after it had been flowering I noticed a fruit forming, and then another and another. What was really magical about this was that the kiwi fruit were growing on the part of the vines above where Ayla had been sitting.
I sent the story into the South Wales Echo and the newspaper sent out a cameraman and a reporter. The story got published with a photo of me with kiwi fruit on each side of my face. So that was how I got known in the Cardiff news media as being the gardener who managed to grow pineapples and kiwi fruit at his home.
Passion for fruit
That was all back before I moved to Tenerife in 2004. Some years later I went back on a holiday visit to Cardiff and went back to Ely to see some friends. I was amazed to see large banana plants growing in a garden in Wroughton Place in the estate. Someone there was following in my footsteps I thought, and with yet another exotic fruit.
Bananas in Ely
If Climate Change continues perhaps it will become normal for fruit normally grown in subtropical and tropical countries to being grown in Wales.
Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.