January 29, 2022

Planting Pawpaws & Persimmons

One of the winter projects on my list is working on my forest garden. I have a fairly good list of what I'm planting—for which a blog post is in the making—but I specifically wanted to mention the pawpaws, because they and the persimmons are the only trees I'm planting from seed. Everything else is saplings. 

The seeds were sent to me by fellow homesteaders (thank you Dino and Terri!) who have pawpaws on their place. Because the seeds lose 20% viability within three days, they sent me whole fruits.

Within the fruit, the seeds are in sacs, which must be removed. For good germination, they must be kept from drying out and need a damp cold place for 70-100 days. This winter, they would have gotten that in the ground, but I never know what kind of winters we'll get. So, I put them in a damp paper towel in a baggie in the fridge. Last week, I got them out to plant.

I got about 22 seeds from the fruits, so I chose two places to plant them. They love shade, so one spot was at the far end of my forest garden.

The other place was at the bottom of our property. 

This is the one area where few pines have dropped, so it's a very nice spot to visit.

In addition to the pawpaws, they sent me some persimmons!

These, I planted whole throughout our entire woods. Each fruit contains several seeds, so we'll see what happens!

Earlier this year, I started transplanting pecan saplings into our woods, but these are the first trees I've planted from seed. It will take years to reap the results, but even so, getting them planted feels like an priceless investment. 


Gorges Smythe said...

We've tried with no success to transplant pawpaws. I think seeds are the way to go.

Leigh said...

Gorges, that's what I've read, that they don't transplant well. I guess some people plant them in pots, but I felt safer planting the seeds directly into the ground. I'm curious as to how well they'll do!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, I have only read of Pawpaws through Gene Logsdon and have no knowledge of them otherwise. To me, they sound rather exotic (although also to me, keffir sounds exotic. Your mileage may vary).

Persimmons are one of the fruits that I know of, but only know of being used in cookies or potentially dried.

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

We have two persimmon trees in our backyard. The one tree never has fruit the other tree is always covered in fruit. The one with the fruit is getting to be too tall and now has an odd hole (almost looks like a fairy door at the bottom. I think we are going to have to cut it down,but I will miss it so much. It makes such deep shade The persimmon tree can be a nuisance in a suburban back yard, because the fruit drops and then sprout all over the place, and once the sprouts have a good start they keep coming back after cutting down. One year my son must have thought he was Johnny Appleseed, but with persimmon seeds instead. He planted them in my front yard flower bed without me knowing about it. Bless him,he thought he was doing something good, but I fought those persimmon sprouts back for years as they tried to take over my flower bed.
I bet your persimmon seeds will sprout in the first year and you will have a persimmon grove in just a few years, and all
of the wildlife that comes to eat the persimmons will be there too. Did you know that the wood of the persimmon tree is so hard that they used to make golf clubs from them, and also used the wood for other items that needed very hard durable wood?

Good luck with your persimmon and paw paw trees. Have fun planting them. My husband's grandparents had some paw paw trees that grew on their farm right along the bank of the Little Wabash river in Illinois. I had never seen them before that time. They weren't ripe to eat yet so I never got to try any.

Leigh said...

TB, I think they are exotic in that they aren't a fruit that can be cultivated much commercially due to very short shelf life. They are a better backyard fruit for eating fresh. The texture is custard like and the flavor is kinda banana/papaya/pineapple/mango-like. (I think it depends on the individual tree!) I believe the flesh can be frozen, although my experience with them was in the days when I didn't have electricity.

Susie, thank you for all that! That's very interesting about the uses of persimmon wood.

We have one very old (tall) persimmon tree in the woods, but the fruits are always eaten by wildlife, which is probably why I've never found any baby persimmon trees around. I know 'possums and deer love them. Several years ago I planted an Asian persimmon tree, but sadly, it never does very well. I'd love for these to do well as a food source for both us and the wildlife.

daisy g said...

Very exciting to start those from seed and see what happens! Best wishes!

Leigh said...

Daisy, it is for me too!

Perry - StoneHillRidge said...

We are able to get both paw paw and persimmon bare root seedlings from our state conservation department. The paw paws have done great for me, but the persimmons just seem to stay alive, no real growth.

So, I started some persimmons from seed off a local tree. They are ready to plant out this spring and we will see what happens!

Leigh said...

Perry, that's fantastic that you can bet both from your state conservation department. Ours carries neither (although I'm getting a bunch of redbud seedlings from them.)

I'll be curious about your persimmon seed experiment. Please let me know sometime in the future!

Debby Riddle said...

Interesting about Paw Paws.I obtained some seed from a seed and cuttings exchange. They were from one grown in my little town, but I didn't meet the donor so I don't know where. I remember reading about them in Rose Wilder Lane's book: The Way West. They are native to America I think. Great information, thanks

Chris said...

These little seeds will pay off, in years to come. Avid gardeners, are the natural philanthropists of the plant world. We love giving away everything that can be propagated or grown. Just to see it spread to someone else's garden!