(This is a repost; some of my old articles got mangled at my previous web host. You can follow additional discussion here: I had to throw away my miracle fruit today)
I threw away my miracle fruit today. I’ve been keeping the two of them alive for two years now. The last six months were the worst.
Miracle Fruit became popular about a year after I started growing them. The New York Times covered Miracle Berries on May 28, 2008, in an article titled, “The Miracle Fruit, a Tease for the Taste Buds.” The article (although not the first) described the berry alongside descriptions taste tests comparable to dorm parties. With additional coverage from every blogger on the planet, I felt pressured to bring the berry plants up to speed. They were a year old at this point.
“The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce, and Obsession” came next. The New York Times’ article was nothing next to Adam Gollner’s book . The Fruit Hunters is filled with religious cults, thieves, and millionaires, all in search for rare and exotic fruit. My miracle fruit were on the front stage.
There are two easy ways to get miracle berries:
- Order the berry online – Before Miracle Fruit got popular, there was one website to order the berries from: Miracle Fruit Man. Before the recent re-popularization of miracle fruit, the Miracle Fruit Man’s website was more humble and less flashy. It’s still the prominent website for fresh berries. They’re expensive at around $2.20 a berry with a minimum of 20 berries. Another important factor is time: Miracle berries must be eaten in 2-3 days. Additionally, they’re generally shipped overnight and require freezing if you’re not eating them right away.
- Order the tablets – Miracle fruit’s active component is called “miraculin”. Tablets of miraculin (bound to a little starch) are available for much less online. There are a lot of brands — I’ve always got mine through ThinkGeek: Miracle Berry Fruit Tablets
Like I said before, the last six months were the worst for the plants. I spent the first year taking avid care of them: they’re tropical plants and need humidity. I sprayed them with water at least once a day, and made humidity tents for them.
I grew them in a modified Rubbermaid box. It had an extension strip cut into the lid with three CFL lightbulbs plugged into it, facing the plants. The inside was painted with a coat of black, and then two coats of white matte paint. Matte was recommended over glossy in order to avoid uneven light distribution in the box.
The middle 6 months weren’t so great. I was realizing that the box was inhibiting their growth past a year. I was getting impatient. I was tired of watering them, tired of misting them, and tired of a glowing Rubbermaid box in the basement. They were growing strong up to this point, but at 1 year and 6 months, I lost interest. Miracle fruit are forgiving; you can get away with forgetting to water them for weeks. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to leave time between watering. You can’t get away with 2 months of neglect at a time though. Lesson learned.
A final farewell, miracle fruit. The three of us made it for two rough years. I can’t find many good things to say about you: You complained when I over fertilized, complained if I over-watered, and didn’t bear fruit ever. I misted you and made humidity tents out of milk jugs. This is the best eulogy you’ll get from me, plants. Goodbye.