Adventures In Sustainability: Grow My Little Jatropha, Grow

Adventures In Sustainability: Grow My Little Jatropha, Grow

ByGroovy Green Aug 14, 2007

Well, it’s been over two months since I started my little Jatropha experiment and I thought I would chime in on how things are coming. First of all, Jatropha is incredibly easy to grow. I had a delay of about three weeks with my initial seeds since most of it was “old” Jat seed according to some growers and stymied my efforts. In desperation to up the odds, I planted about 20 seeds into one container and was finally rewarded with about six plants. After a few weeks, I transferred two of the strongest plants to a larger container and they’ve taken off in their new home. Surprisingly, the other four plants are doing fine (albeit with not as dramatic growth) and continue to increase in foliage.

Jatropha PlantSince I’ve had some time to spend growing this plant, I’ve also discovered some interesting facts. For instance, this is a deciduous tree. I’ve always heard it referred to as a ‘weed’ but this may be because it has an easy time adapting to poor soil conditions, droughts, and can survive almost anywhere it stay relatively above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, Jatropha can grow 8-10 meters tall under the right conditions. Once it drops its leaves and flowers, the seeds will follow shortly afterwards and then mature three months later. It’s at this point that we can attempt some biofuel extraction.

I may have to do some manual pollination since by the time my tree flowers, fall will probably be coming to an end. Then, both varieties will come inside. I say “both” because Tomas Ray Harner III from the Grassroots Jatropha Initiative in Honduras was kind enough to send me a variety of Jatropha that may do well in colder climates. The little guy you see here growing to the right will be a little experiment in cold weather endurance. The plant is about two weeks old.

So, what’s next? We wait. As soon as I get some flowers on these beauties, I will update with more information. In the meantime, if you have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to leave some comments below.