Spicing up your life with allspice
It is believed that the allspice tree was first discovered in 1509, the allspice tree is said to be a native of Central America, The Greater Antilles and Southern Mexico. Allspice is also known as Jamaica Pepper and the scientific name for this spice is Pimenta Dioica. During historical times allspice was used to preserve meats. The fruits of this spice tree are picked when green and dried in the sun.
In the Caribbean, allspice is used in many dishes, the leaves can be used to make tea and are also used for medical purposes. As a child, my parents would often cook with this spice adding it mostly to our famous chicken souse that was loved and prepared by the natives. To this day this spice is still used to prepare chicken, pig feet, lambchop, turkey, rib and mutton souse that is enjoyed by many of the Islanders.
Allspice is also used in stews and Jamaican jerk seasoning, the wood of the allspice tree is used to add flavours to smoked meats. Allspice is also used to make spice cakes and the list goes on but how is this tree grown and cared for and how can you grow and allspice tree in your home garden to enjoy its flavours as you prepare those delicious meals.
How to grow allspice
Allspice can be grown from seeds or a plant, we will be looking at both of these methods and you can decide which is best for you.
Growing allspice from a plant
1. When growing this spice tree from a plant, look for a sunny location that gets 6-8 hours of sunlight also the location should have sufficient room for your allspice tree to grow. A ten foot spacing from other garden plants is ideal.
3. Allow the soil to dry out somewhat between watering. Overwatering your allspice tree can lead to root rot which is not good which can kill your plant.
4. When fertilizing your spice tree, fertilize with a slow or control release fertilizer and remember to always follow the direction on how to fertilize because the label is the law.
Insects of the allspice tree
Allspice has its share of insect pests which can present a problem, here are a few garden insect pests to keep an eye out for.
- Spiders Mites
- Lace Bugs
These insects are sucking insects which pierce the tissues of plants and injust the plant’s juice. These insects are also responsible for sooty mold that can further affect your allspice tree. For more on sooty mold click on the link. The key to controlling sooty mold is by eliminating these listed insects that are responsible for them. The use of insecticidal soap sprays has proven to be effective or you can try these homemade remedies that may offer some help.
Bark Beetles presents another problem of the spice tree. The bark beetle cause damage by boring through the trees branches, limbs and trunk. Control measure involves pruning infected plant parts and properly disposing of an keeping your spice tree healthy at all times.
Pruning your allspice tree
In order for your allspice plant to retain its natural shape, keep a hand pruner and a lopper shears close by, prune branches that are damaged or crossing. If plant is growing too big in its existing area pruning may also need to be done.
Growing allspice tree from seeds
Another way to grow allspice tree is from the seeds, seeds can be directly sowed into the ground but I prefer to start them in containers. The soil can be prepared by using half sand and compost in 6-inch pots. Moisten this mixture and sow seeds at a depth of about 1/5 then replace the potting mix over the seeds.
The pots should be placed in an area that gets 6-8 hours of sunlight. Ensure that soil remains moderately moist because during this time it is critical in order for your seeds to germinate. Seeds should germinate in about 2-1/2 weeks sometimes it may take a bit longer. Once the seedlings really begin to take off they can be transplanted into one-gallon pots and after several weeks plants can be removed from the pot and installed in your garden area just follow the above mentioned when planting small allspice trees.
If you wish to keep your allspice plants in containers, then choosing containers anywhere from 7 gal or larger will offer help. With container grown spice tree make sure that your containers have drain holes for excess water to drain through and keep soil moderately moist, also the use of a slow-release fertilizer will keep your spice tree healthy.
When to harvest
The time to harvest the fruit may take up to 3 years but with much patience, you will reap a good harvest. What I love about this plant is although you have to wait for several years for the tree to bear fruit, the leaves can be used. For example, the leaves also carry the aroma and the flavour which we use in our rice and meat recipes.
The final word
This spice tree which is a favourite of the Carribean is that simple to grow and care for, why not add some spice to dishes by flavouring them with allspice that has proven to work wonders. When first introduced to this tree many years ago I was amazed and blown away by its powerful and pleasant aromas so consider adding this spice tree to your garden and reap the benefits that will spice up your life.