• Jill, left, and Jim Wadlow, right, have a number of pineapple plants producing fruit at their home in Burleson.  Burleson Star/BRIAN PORTER

Pineapple growing in Burleson?

Local man has grown a small backyard crop

Jim Wadlow admits to getting a strange look every now and again when he brings it up.

"I've got pineapple growing in my backyard in Burleson," he said.

It's not like growing roses, bluebonnets or even a fruit tree with a fairly high expectation for success.

"It takes two years for a pineapple plant to blossom," Wadlow said. "You might get a pineapple. You might not."

The former city councilman was flipping through a 1950 version of Popular Mechanics when he ran across a story about a pineapple grower in Hawaii. The story claimed pineapple wouldn't grow without a certain amount of iron content in soil.

As he tells the story, workers at a machine plant decided to use old implements and water to create "iron water," which was then used to grow pineapple plants. Wadlow decided to take it as a challenge. He thought he would turn to Miracle Gro.

"It has the essential iron and nutrients the pineapple plant needs," Wadlow said. "I was intrigued by the article and decided to try it. I was hoping to maybe get one pineapple a year."

Jim and his wife, Jill, gave the plant everything it needed, including quite a large space in an area converted to a greenhouse.

"It used to be a spa room," Jill said.

The first plant grew to about four feet in height and width. Other plants were grown before the first pineapple arrived. There are maybe eight pineapple plants at various stages at their home today.

The idea led to Jim seeking some approval from Jill.

"Nothing surprises me," she said. "We've done a lot in 60 years of marriage."

She never doubted that if her husband believed he could grow a pineapple plant in North Texas that soon they would be eating pineapple.

"I have this reputation for not telling me something can't be done," Jim said.

He's learned that a golden-colored pineapple is "ready," and that natural pineapple doesn't necessarily taste the way it would from a can of processed pineapple.

"It is not as sweet," Jill said.

"It will have more of a tart taste," Jim said.

Admittedly, Wadlow's operation isn't exactly the model of efficiency. He had a pineapple blossom and produce fruit this year. He has trouble predicting how many he may have by the end of the year or next.

"But, its a hobby. I have fun with it," Jim said. "I guess you might say I'm the Johnny Pineappleseed of Burleson."

A neighbor came over to see the plant. A friend, Bettie Bailey, made a special trip across town to get a look at it. A Burleson police officer even asked to have a look.

"You don't really have to have patience," Jim said. "You just have to let the plant grow, water it and water it."

He's not decided what to try next, because he may be settled on being a pineapple grower. His list of those he's promised pineapples to is one reason.

"Pineapple has become my thing," Wadlow said. "I think I'll stick with it. I know what to expect, now."

Burleson Star

327 N.W. Renfro St.
PO Box 909
Burleson, TX 76028-0909

Phone: 817-295-0486
FAX: 817-295-5278

 

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Image: 
Jill, left, and Jim Wadlow, right, have a number of pineapple plants producing fruit at their home in Burleson.  Burleson Star/BRIAN PORTER