When we first started planting trees at Aanandaa, I remember we got about 70 mango trees of many different varieties and planted them. We also tagged all the plants with their names, so that we would know which is which. This was in 2011.
Five years later in 2016, we have had our first season of really good mangoes. However, the trees have all grown, and the tags have all been lost. So we don't really know which mango is which, but what we do know is that some start ripening in early June and others go on till early August. So we get over two months of mangoes, ranging from Amarpalli, Chausa, Langda and Dussehri and ther must be a few more whose names we don't know now!
A couple of things that have helped our mango crop. i) The wind break trees at the periphery of Aanandaa help keep the strong winds out in the event of a dust storm. When most farmers lose the mango flowers or the small mangoes to a storm, at Aanandaa such losses are minimal on account of the wind break. ii) Our micro ecosystem is a haven for insects, bees and birds. This results in good pollination of our flowers. And iii) we have planted our trees wide apart with many other trees interspersing this orchard. This means its not a monoculture of mangoes, rather a diverse forest with many trees. This prevents diseases and keeps the trees stronger and healthier.
Unlike commercial farms, we do not use any ripening agents on our mangoes. Of course we do not use any pesticides or insecticides either. As a result, our mangoes can be eaten with their skin! Yes, thats how mangoes are consumed in southern states of India, and perhaps had been consumed everywhere before people became wary of eating the skin on account of chemicals and insecticides.
We got about 300 kgs of mangoes this year and we consumed almost all of them. We gave away about 50kg to friends and family, but the rest we consumed. A simple way to manage this inventory is to keep the mangoes in a basket, and everyday just take out the ones which are ready to eat. They keep ripening by themselves in this basket.
What we found amazing was how flavorful and delicious these earthy mangoes were. Commercially ripened mangoes are just sweet. But mangoes from Aanandaa are a riot of flavours that make them a delicacy, almost. We are already looking forward to next year!